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PROS 2015 Summer Meeting

2015 PROS Meeting will be in Texas.

A NASA tour is planned. You will love the Gulf Coast. Plan your meeting now, and have some fun too.

Read page two. News continues, don't stop on page one.

Cavernous Swiss power plant undermined by renewable energy

LE CHATELARD, Switzerland, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Deep in a Swiss mountain, workers have blasted out a cathedral-sized hole for a power plant that will help keep Europe's lights on, but the profit outlook for the 1.9 billion Swiss franc ($2.1 billion) project has darkened since its construction began in 2008.

The Nant de Drance plant, and others like it, is being undermined by cheap renewable solar and wind energy, which up-ends its business model of pumping water uphill at night when power prices are low and releasing it to make electricity when prices peak in the daytime - a process known as pumped storage.

These pumped storage plants are designed to balance Europe's power supply grids as they can switch on and off at the flick of a switch, unlike nuclear or coal-fired power plants.

When work started on Nant de Drance, its shareholders - a consortium led by Swiss utility Alpiq - hoped to make healthy returns.

But then things changed. Power is still cheap at night, but the traditional daytime price peak has gradually disappeared as fast-growing solar capacity in Germany floods the grids with power around midday.

As a result, Nant de Drance and some other major Swiss pumped storage projects now look a lot less profitable. Several projects in Switzerland, Germany and Austria have been put on ice. But for Nant de Drance, it was too late to stop digging.


Madras Atomic Power Station units renew operational licence till December 2015

NPCIL's two power reactors at Kalpakkam have renewed their operational licence with the sectoral regulator till Dec 2015, a senior official said Saturday.CHENNAI: The NPCIL's two power reactors at Kalpakkam have renewed their operational licence with the sectoral regulator till Dec 2015, a senior official said Saturday. 

The two units may increase their power output next year, he said.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd ( NPCIL) has two 220 MW nuclear power reactors at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) in Kalpakkam, about 70 km from here.

"We have renewed the licence to operate the two units till Dec 2015. The two units are generating about 170 MW. We may increase the power output next year," MAPS station director T.J. Kotteeswaran told IANS over phone from Kalpakkam on Saturday. 

Tribe ‘disappointed’ in waste storage rule

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved Tuesday a final rule and environmental impact statement governing the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel at reactors across the country.

The Prairie Island Indian Community expressed disappointment with the decision, saying the rule opens the door to keeping 1.5 million pounds of radioactive waste at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear plant for decades to come.

While the rule does not permit nuclear plants to store spent fuel for a specific length of time, the NRC says it will be used during the licensing process for on-site storage after a reactor ceases operations.

“Yesterday the NRC affirmed a new rule and generic environmental impact statement that conclude that spent nuclear fuel – some of the most dangerous and toxic substances known to mankind – can be safely stored 600 yards from our homes indefinitely if no geologic repository is ever built,” said Prairie Island Indian Community Tribal Council President Ron Johnson in a statement Wednesday.

“No other community sits as close to a nuclear site and its waste storage,” he added.

The federal government was supposed to build a site to accept the nation’s nuclear waste for permanent storage under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, but failed to meet a 1998 deadline. Opening of a storage facility at Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert stalled amid years of funding and licensing battles.

Hearings set for Salem/Hope Creek expansion plan

Two major public reviews are in the works for PSEG Power's bid for an approved site to build one or more nuclear plants just north of its three-reactor Salem/Hope Creek complex on Artificial Island along the Delaware River southeast of Port Penn.

Public comment will be taken during two sessions Oct. 1 in Carney's Point, New Jersey, on a draft environmental impact statement for the company's early site permit request, as well as a biological assessment focused on concerns for endangered species in the area.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has tentatively concluded that environmental impacts "would not prevent" approval of the permit.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not yet reported its decision on a separate hearing for an agreement that will give PSEG 631 federally owned acres needed for the project. PSEG in exchange would deed to the Corps 354 acres along the Delaware River near Paulsboro the Corps of Engineers needs for dredge spoils disposal.

Lines already have drawn up for both hearings, with environmental groups objecting to both the environmental permit and the land deal. Industry and labor interests have sided with PSEG's potentially multi-billion dollar investment as a boon to the region's economy and employment.

The Delaware Riverkeeper, a multi-state conservation group, requested a hearing on the land-swap earlier this year.

Exelon opposes renewal of wind subsidy

Wind Power Curtailmen_Will.jpgWind power advocates are expressing concern over Exelon Corp.’s proposed merger with the company that owns Delmarva Power, saying its opposition to the major subsidy for wind could hurt the development of onshore and offshore wind farms.

Exelon owns such distribution utilities as PECO in Pennsylvania and BGE in Baltimore. It has filed papers to merge with Pepco Holdings Inc., owner of Delmarva Power in Delaware and Maryland, Pepco in Maryland and the District of Columbia, and Atlantic City Electric in New Jersey.

Exelon, the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the United States, has been vocal in opposition to the Production Tax Credit, a subsidy to wind farm developers that drives down the cost of construction, and thus the cost of the power.

The tax credit expired at the end of 2013, causing a flurry of wind development to beat the deadline. Wind industry supporters say there’s still a chance it will be belatedly renewed, and are lobbying to make it so.

TVA makes $4.5 billion bet on nuclear resurgence

One of the keys to the Tennessee Valley Authority's efforts to meet strict new rules for reducing greenhouse gas emissions lies behind walls more than a foot thick and beneath more than a half-million pounds of metal.

The walls form a massive concrete containment building at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant, where workers this summer have been putting the finishing touches on the utility's latest reactor — a signal that a federal agency that once bet heavily on atomic energy is coming back to the nuclear table.

That signal is reinforced by new EPA rules for reducing emissions and by the utility's continued efforts to have a broad mix of energy sources. Ironically, though, some of the biggest objections are coming from environmentalists, who think nuclear is a bad idea to begin with.

TVA in recent years has been moving away from coal, which produces harmful pollutants when burned and is one of the nation's leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear — and cleaner-burning natural gas — could help fill that void.

TVA officials say they are on pace to start operating the new Watts Bar reactor — the second at the power plant — in December 2015. That could make Watts Bar the nation's first new civilian nuclear power unit to come online in the 21st century.

Ukrainian nuclear plant vulnerable to Kiev’s artillery strikes – Greenpeace expert

The Zaporozhye nuclear power plant.(RIA Novosti / Falin)

Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is vulnerable to ‘direct bombardment’ in Ukraine if caught in the conflict, a Greenpeace nuclear energy expert told a German newspaper, claiming that its nuclear reactors are not protected from armor-piercing weapons.

Greenpeace nuclear expert Tobias Münchmeyer revealed his concerns over the six-reactor Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant in eastern Ukraine to Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. He said the plant was insufficiently protected against a direct bombardment and that 1.2-meter thick reinforced concrete shells surrounding each reactor are strong enough to withstand only a small aircraft crash.

"There are many armor-piercing weapons in the region, which could penetrate these protective covers," Münchmeyer said, as cited by Deutsche Welle on Saturday.

The Soviet design reactors at Zaporizhia are largely dependent on Russian expertise and spare parts, the expert also said.

Zaporizhia is the largest nuclear power plant (NPP) not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe and also the fifth largest NPP in the world. It is situated on the bank of the Kakhovka water reservoir on the Dnieper River. This is some 200 kilometers from the warzone in Donetsk region.



Confidence -- What Does It Mean For Nuclear Waste?

Can we be confident that we can handle our nuclear waste in America? On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said – yes. The NRC made a small but incredibly important decision about nuclear waste that could finally get nuclear energy moving forward again.

In response to a 2012 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals, the NRC approved a generic environmental impact statement that clears the way for storing spent nuclear fuel for a hundred years or more (NRC Ruling). New nuclear power plants can now be built without waiting for a final nuclear waste repository to be built.

This is indeed a very good thing.

Nuclear power plants in the United States have safely stored spent nuclear fuel for decades in spent fuel pools of water and, later, in concrete dry casks. There has never been a problem.

But the centerpiece of our nuclear waste program has always been the idea of a deep geologic repository as the final resting place for nuclear waste.

Therefore, when the Yucca Mountain deep geologic repository project was essentially canned in 2009 (killed for similar political reasons it was born from), it was a blow to the country’s confidence in our ability to handle our spent nuclear fuel. We had never thought about storing this stuff forever.

Specifically, the 2012 Court struck down what’s called the NRC Waste Confidence Decision, which stated:

Severe Accident Solutions for Training and Emergency Preparedness

GSE Systems CTO Steven Freel presents Severe Accident Solutions for Training and Emergency Preparedness at 3rd annual European Nuclear Power Plant Simulation Forum, Sept 24th - 26th in Budapest, Hungary.

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