Holtec unveils fuel basket for fast-track decommissioning

24 January 2017

Holtec International has unveiled a new “proto-prompt” decommissioning strategy, which the US company says could see the conversion of a nuclear power plant site to greenfield status within about five-and-a-half years after the plant is shut down.

Holtec's heat dissipating fuel basket, made from Metamic HT (Image: Holtec)

Holtec said it was prompted to develop the strategy to address concerns about the risk of accidental pool drainage, with the associated risks of a zirconium fire. The company said such a scenario, while “non-credibly improbable, stalks the decision-making process of every nuclear plant owner preparing to draw down its workforce after ceasing operations”.

When a reactor is shut down, its used nuclear fuel is usually stored in an at-reactor pool for several years to allow it to cool sufficiently to be transferred to another suitable long-term storage facility or for disposal.

Holtec’s strategy relies on the use of its friction-stir welded fuel basket made of Metamic HT, an aluminium boron carbide metal matrix composite. The welds do not suffer from distortion typically seen with conventional welding process.

The basket has over ten times the thermal conductivity of conventional stainless steel fuel baskets, which shortens the required cooling period of used fuel, prior to transfer to dry storage, from about seven years to two-and-a-half years. This would enable a shuttered plant site to be returned to its pre-plant state within about 66 months after the reactor’s shutdown, the company said.

The strategy will eliminate the fuel and high-level waste “as the obstacle to demolishing the plant” and allow a site to be restored more quickly, it added.

Holtec first announced development of its latest used fuel storage baskets in January 2014.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

As posted at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Holtec-unveils-fuel-basket-for-fast-track-decommissioning-2401178.html


OPG report on planned nuclear waste bunker blasted as ‘inadequate’

Opponents of a planned nuclear waste bunker have hit back at a report affirming the Lake Huron shoreline as the best place to locate the facility.

They also claim the federal government is trying to limit scrutiny of the Ontario Power Generation report and ignoring concerns about the project from the United States and elsewhere.

The report, done at Ottawa’s request for more information, did not look at other specific sites but concludes it would cost billions of dollars and set the project back decades if it was forced to bury the toxic waste anywhere other than at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, near Kincardine, Ont.

One activist group called the report a “completely inadequate” response to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who must approve the proposal.

“This is the fifth time that OPG has side-stepped a specific government request to study alternative sites,” Rod McLeod, a director of SOS Great Lakes, said in a statement. “At what point is the federal government going to stand up and do its job?”

Critics are also angry that the government is allowing just 30 days for public comment on a report OPG had the better part of a year to produce.

“It appears to me the government perhaps does not care to hear what the public thinks,” McLeod said.

Scores of Great Lakes communities have passed resolutions or otherwise expressed opposition to OPG’s proposed deep geologic repository, currently estimated to cost about $2.4 billion. The plan calls for about 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate nuclear waste to be stored in bedrock up to 680 metres underground about 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron starting in 2026.

American Congressman Dan Kildee, a vocal critic of the project from Michigan, said the risk of poisoning drinking water — despite OPG’s insistence the rock bunker would contain the waste for thousands of years and is safer than above-ground storage — is simply too high.

“Surely in the vast land mass that comprises Canada, there must be a better place to permanently store nuclear waste than on the shores of Lake Huron,” Kildee said in a statement.

The OPG report maintains that trucking the radioactive material — potentially from one end of the province to the other — would pose more of a health and safety risk than burying it at the Bruce site, where much of it is produced.

Critics, who argue similar storage bunkers elsewhere in the world have failed, are especially scornful of OPG’s assertion — based largely on an analysis of Google searches — that most people in the province have little interest in the project. Among other things, they cite an online petition that close to 100,000 project opponents have signed.

“Their claim is in direct conflict with evidence presented at the environmental hearings as well as ongoing public opposition,” said Ellen Dailey, a doctor based in Erie, Pa., and another SOS Great Lakes director.

OPG also has a record of biased surveys, such as one that showed overwhelming support for the repository in Kincardine itself — making it the required “willing host,” opponents argue.

Among other things, they note OPG is paying Kincardine and nearby municipalities — home to one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants and many of its employees — $35 million to support the project. They also argue a survey of local residents was skewed by a preamble that called the project safe and economically beneficial without mentioning any potential risks.

The federal government has delayed its decision on the project since a review panel approved it in May 2015. McKenna is now slated to decide either late this year or early next.

The Canadian Press

Published Tuesday, January 10, 2017 2:35PM EST http://london.ctvnews.ca/opg-report-on-planned-nuclear-waste-bunker-blasted-as-inadequate-1.3235490 

OPG identifies most of Ontario as alternate ‘location’ to bury nuclear waste:

Ontario Power Generation was asked by the federal government to identify “actual locations” as alternates for its plan to bury nuclear waste. It’s now up to the minister as to whether they’ve done that.

A report recently released by Ontario Power Generation includes Ryden’s Border Store, just across the border in Minnesota, as one of the coordinates in an area designated as an alternate location for burying nuclear waste.
A report recently released by Ontario Power Generation includes Ryden’s Border Store, just across the border in Minnesota, as one of the coordinates in an area designated as an alternate location for burying nuclear waste.

Ryden’s Border Store, located about 800 metres from the U.S./Canada border in Grand Portage, Minn., has been run by the Ryden clan since 1947 and still does a brisk business in currency exchange, parcel pickup, beer and T-shirt sales and such.

Two years ago Larry Ryden’s daughter, Lori Boomer, took over the place. Everyone calls her Sam. Summertime is super busy with fishermen headed north to the “wild blue yonder,” she says. (Canadian beer is expensive, she notes.) Christmases are always crazy with thousands of parcels needing to be processed for pickup.

Here’s a question Ms. Boomer is ill-equipped to handle: if Ontario were to ship 150,000 cubic metres of low level and intermediate level nuclear waste her way, would she have a place to bury it? “Well, one, I’m not going to accept it obviously. Two, my government’s not going to accept it. It’s absurd.”

The hunt for an appropriate site for a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) to house waste from Ontario’s nuclear facilities is not a subject to be taken lightly. Everything from mops to materials close to the reactor core, such as ion exchange resins that bear a “significant amount” of Carbon-14, a radionuclide that has a half life of more than 5,700 years, is slated for permanent burial.

And let’s be clear — Ms. Boomer has not been contacted on a whim. A report recently released by OPG cites Ryden’s GPS co-ordinates as one of the plot points in one of two contemplated alternate locations for the DGR. Equally curious, the co-ordinates for the second alternate include a stately two story brick home in Chaplin Estates, near Yonge St. and Davisville Ave.

This is worth digging into.

On Dec. 28, Ontario Power Generation submitted the results of its federally mandated assignment to present technically and economically feasible alternate locations for the DGR — alternate, that is, to OPG’s preferred strategy to inter the waste from the Bruce, Darlington and Pickering nuclear power plants at Bruce Nuclear near Kincardine.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will take until Jan. 16 to determine “whether OPG’s information is complete and that it conforms to the Minister’s information request.” A 30-day public comment period will follow.

When the federal Environment Ministry requested the study, 11 months ago, it sought details as to “specific reference to actual locations.” While OPG responded in April that it intended to assess two feasible “geological regions” in the province, “without providing specific reference to actual locations,” it says now that in this document and the main submission it is using specific references to actual locations.

The common reader may see the word “location” to mean, as it is conventionally defined, a particular or exact place.

OPG has provided something quite different and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna now must decide whether the power giant has come up with an evaluation that is good enough.

Let’s remember that the proposed Bruce site will be dug nearly 700 metres deep in limestone host rock a distance of 1.2 km from Lake Huron. The town of Kincardine is on side. Opposition voices on both sides of the border have been loud, particularly as it concerns protecting the Great Lakes.

The dominant question: is Bruce the best spot? And a corollary: wasn’t granite — the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario — discussed long ago as potentially the appropriate geology for toxic waste? The issue may pertain not just to low and intermediate waste, but ultimately the disposal of spent fuel rods, a headache for the generations that has yet to be effectively addressed.

OPG has defined two alternate locations — one a “crystalline” rock location, which OPG has used interchangeably with granite, and the other a sedimentary rock location. Fourteen GPS co-ordinates, including Ryden’s Border Store and a spot in Lake Erie, have been provided to define the first of these. When mapped, the 14 form the perimeter of this so-called “crystalline alternate location.” Plotted by the Star’s Matthew Cole, the result is a 726,052-square-kilometre land mass covering roughly 73 per cent of the province.

OPG makes the accurate assertion that taken to a finer decimal point, which is not noted in the report, the location perimeter moves just a titch this side of Canadian border. So Ryden’s is off the hook. What this should spur in McKenna’s office is an examination of how carefully OPG undertook the assignment and whether the vast result is of much use.

Jerry Keto, the OPG vice-president who signed off on the reports, was unavailable for comment. In his stead, OPG spokesperson Kevin Powers responded to the question as to whether OPG has fulfilled its mandate. “We do believe we have met the minister’s expectations,” Powers says. “The minister asked for a study of the environmental effects of two technically and economically feasible alternate locations. We distinguish between sites and locations. A site would be identified through a multiyear, multiphase, consent based exercise, which would be the equivalent of starting over again to find a willing host community. Instead we approached this as we would as if this were the early screening step of a siting process, so what geological locations are technically and economically feasible. But ultimately it will be up to the minister to determine whether or not this has met her expectations.”

In making its case for the Bruce site, the report estimates that it could take two decades to secure an alternate location, a process of marrying evidence-based science to a willing host community. It additionally projects increased costs should an alternate site be chosen, including transportation costs, depending on distance, of between $380 million and $1.4 billion.

As to the geology, the report raises the possibility that a crystalline location could be more fractured and thereby more permeable than Bruce. This is of particular importance with the intermediate waste, concluding that a “likely” result would be sooner groundwater contact, releasing, by example, Carbon-14 “sooner than expected in sedimentary rock.”

Yet a companion report on the potential environmental effects prepared by Golder Associates states that “the deep bedrock zones are expected to exhibit very low permeability.” Just like the Bruce site.

Rod McLeod, provincial deputy environment minister in the David Peterson government and the province’s chief Crown prosecutor before that, is a director of SOS Great Lakes, the group that has been loudest in its opposition to the Bruce DGR. “OPG has never answered the question,” McLeod says of the years-long location discussion. He spools all the way back to 2003. “They didn’t answer it then, they didn’t answer it at the first hearing in 2013, they were given a second chance at a new hearing in 2014. They are simply stalling.”

Will McKenna ultimately relieve OPG of the traditional requirement to identify, study, analyze and reject alternate options? And if so, on what basis, besides expediency?

Rod McLeod’s view is that it’s “absolute madness” to “dig this hole beside the drinking water source for 40 million Canadians and Americans.”

OPG insists that, at least according to its own social media analysis, Ontarians aren’t bothered. “The topic is not a popular one, nor is it generating large volumes of curiosity,” the report states, adding that interest in the DGR has “flatlined.”

The public now has little more than a month to change that perception, should it care to.

By JENNIFER WELLS, Business Columnist, Tues., Jan. 10, 2017, jenwells, as posted at https://www.thestar.com/business/2017/01/10/opg-identifies-most-of-ontario-as-alternate-location-to-bury-nuclear-waste-jennifer-wells.html

Nuclear waste needs a home Opinion

OPINION PIECE | It’s easy to say “no” when someone wants to bury nuclear waste in your backyard.

Who, after all, would leap at the prospect of living close to high volumes of radioactive material if they thought there was any chance it could hurt them?

So it is as understandable as it is predictable that thousands of Canadians and Americans object to the plan by Ontario Power Generation to store hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of radioactive waste in an underground bunker at the Bruce Nuclear power plant outside Kincardine.

Topping their fears is the concern, however remote, that this waste could leak into and contaminate nearby Lake Huron — a great source of drinking water as well as a vacation playground.

But it is also true that for nearly 50 years a steadily growing stockpile of nuclear waste has been stored in what was only meant to be a temporary facility at this nuclear power plant.

For reasons of health, safety and security, a permanent solution must be found. And the only way for this to happen is for someone, somewhere, to say, however reluctantly, “yes.”

Ontario Power Generation proposes burying this waste in a bunker in bedrock 680 metres deep and about 1.2 kilometres from the lake. In May 2015, an environmental review panel approved the project.

But last February, well aware of the vocal opposition, the federal government asked Ontario Power Generation to provide information on locating the nuclear waste repository somewhere else.

That report is now in and — no surprise here — it found no perfect solution.

There are other 900-hectare sites across Ontario that are geologically suitable for housing a nuclear waste bunker. But trying to pick one would open the door to a host of new problems.

The biggest risk that a new site would pose would come from the need to truck up to 24,000 shipments of the hazardous waste hundreds, possibly thousands of kilometres to it from Kincardine.

Given the high number of shipments, there is a distinct possibility of one or more road collisions, which would increase the risk of radioactive exposure to the workers and the public.

Finding a community ready to embrace such a project would be challenging, too. In contrast, the municipality of Kincardine, which has benefited economically from the local nuclear power plant, will welcome the radioactive waste bunker.

In addition, moving to a new location would add up to $3.5 billion to the project’s cost because of the need to buy and prepare new land as well as to safely package and ship the waste.

And while the storage bunker at the Bruce Nuclear power plant would be ready by 2026, an alternative site might not be ready for use before 2055.

This is a tough issue. Ontarians benefit greatly from nuclear power, which generates more than half of the province’s electricity and without contributing to climate change. But it would be irresponsible for them to leave this nuclear waste above ground indefinitely.

Perhaps it’s time to trust the scientific experts — as hard as that might be.

And perhaps, when no solution to a problem is perfect, it’s best to choose the least-bad option.

OPINION, Waterloo Record, January 6 2017, as posted at http://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/7051956-nuclear-waste-needs-a-home/

Nuke waste decision long way off

Thunder Bay Chronicle | Four communities in Northwestern Ontario remain in the hunt for a possible nuclear waste underground repository.

Ignace, White River, Hornpayne and Manitouwadge continue to be involved in the site selection process for a proposed underground nuclear-waste storage facility.

Studies such as geophysical and environmental surveys are currently being conducted in areas surrounding the communities to assess the potential suitability of rock formations to host a deep geological repository for the long-term management of Canada’s used nuclear fuel. A number of open houses have also been held to keep residents apprised of developments.

The Nuclear Waste Management Organization is searching for a suitable underground storage site for 50,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel bundles – enough to fill six hockey rinks up to the boards. The proposed facility, which would go into service by 2040 at the earliest, is expected to create between 400 and 600 permanent jobs.
Those communities willing to consider having the site on their turf have so far each received $400,000 for their trouble. Receiving the money from the NWMO doesn’t mean the towns must accept a nuclear-waste storage site; they can spend the funds as they see fit for “community projects.”

The NWMO has maintained that the project will only move forward with the approval of area communities, First Nations and Métis groups.

Ignace Mayor Lee Kennard said Friday that his community is still involved in the process because “there is still a lot to learn, not only for us but also for the other communities in this process.

“We continue to be involved in field studies and engagement activities as we learn more about this important national infrastructure project and whether or not it may be feasible in the Ignace area,” he said, adding that “it will be several years before a potential host area is identified.”

The NWMO has indicated they hope to be down to one of the nine communities as the sole focus of study by 2023, Kennard said, and that a facility may be operational between 2040 and 2045.
As for support of the project in the community, Kennard said that “no one is being asked or expected to make decisions at this point.

“It’s simply too early. We are currently involved in learning and research on the suitability of the geology and potential social and economic impacts. We won’t know the results for several years. The Ignace area may never even reach that point,” he said.

The Ignace mayor noted that this is a $22 billion national infrastructure project. That means it brings significant social and economic impacts to a potential host area.

“An important part of the process is examining these impacts and how they may be managed to be a net benefit to our community and region. It’s not just about finding the right geology. Although,” he said, “without that nothing else would matter as safety is the number one priority.

“Over the last several years, we have held numerous open houses and many other engagement activities. That will continue and expand for as long as we remain in the process. I would encourage people to become involved.

Right now, it’s very much about learning together,” Kennard added.

NWMO regional communications manager Pat Dolcetti said that there are currently nine Ontario communities involved in the site selection process.

Four of which are in Northwestern Ontario, while others are Elliot Lake, Blind River, South Bruce, Huron-Kinloss and Central Huron.

“All of these communities are in the preliminary assessment phase,” Dolcetti said, adding that the NWMO is planning to select one the nine as the focus of study by 2023.

He explained that the preliminary assessment phase focuses on studies of the local area geology (such as geological mapping, airborne surveys, initial environmental mapping and planning for core sample studies) and the potential social and economic impacts for the community and surrounding region. The process is conducted collaboratively with the involvement of communities in the area, he said.

“Learning and engagement continues and broadens to involve communities in the areas involved, including First Nation and Métis communities,” Dolcetti said. “Collaboration with both specialists and the public was key to the design of Canada’s plan for the long-term management of used nuclear fuel. The work of the NWMO is guided by the values and objectives identified during this process.

“Collaboration with interested communities and Canadians is at the heart of this process,” he said. Public engagement is an ongoing key element of working together. For example, the NWMO has held numerous open houses, information sessions, group and individual conversations with interested people in the potential siting communities and across the country.

“These efforts will continue to grow as the process unfolds,” Dolcetti added.
For more information visit the NWMO website.

Three other Northwest communities, Schreiber, Ear Falls and Nipigon, are no longer involved in the site selection process. Rock formations near Ear Falls and Schreiber were deemed unsatisfactory for storing nuclear waste, while Nipigon pulled out because of its push for tourism was at odds with the nuclear waste plan.

Like a proposal to bury nuclear waste near Lake Huron, the Northwest plan does have its objectors.

A local White River citizens group staged a protest earlier against the storage-site proposal.
Proponents “think we should do the noble thing and accept the waste for the good of the country, but I don’t want it here,” protest organizer Jennifer Jacques said then. “We live up here for a reason. Everyone around traps, or goes hunting and fishing.”

White River Mayor Angelo Bazzoni earlier said he “encouraged the community to become involved as we learn together with the NWMO and our neighbours about the potential impacts of the project on our region if it were to be implemented here.”

Meanwhile, a new report released this week by Ontario Power Generation, says that relocating a nuclear-waste bunker from its currently proposed site on Lake Huron would cost billions of dollars, take decades to execute, and increase health and environmental risks,.

In May 2015, an environmental review panel approved the project – currently estimated to cost about $2.4 billion – which would see a bunker built at the Bruce nuclear power plant near Kincardine, Ont. Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of radioactive waste – now stored at the site above ground – would be buried in bedrock 680 metres deep about 1.2 kilometres from Lake Huron.

The federal government has since delayed making a final decision on the plan, instead asking OPG last February to provide information on locating the repository somewhere else.

Finding another community willing to take the waste – the municipality of Kincardine has been supportive of the project – won’t be easy.

“There would be considerable uncertainties associated with a DGR at an alternate location including the time required to develop and implement a consent-based site-selection process and achieve a willing and supportive host community, as well as the consent of indigenous communities,” the report states.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency will now review and assess the utility’s report, allow time for public comment, and come up with its own recommendations to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in the fall. The agency notes the timeline could change if it requires more information.

For its part, however, OPG insists it’s time to set aside any criticism and get on with digging the bunker – at the Bruce site.

“Deferring costs to future generations, when a safe, cost-effective option already exists, is not necessarily in the best interests of society,” the report states. “OPG therefore concludes that the DGR project at the Bruce nuclear site remains the preferred location.”

January 7, 2017 – BRYAN MEADOWS NORTHWEST BUREAU, Thunder Bay Chronicle, as posted at http://www.chroniclejournal.com/news/nuke-waste-decision-long-way-off/article_1da819b4-d4dc-11e6-99e4-f71d7dbf7551.html

Czechs protest against nuclear waste repository plan

Chanovice, West Bohemia, Jan 7 (CTK) – A large group of people took part in a march in protest against a planned construction of a nuclear waste repository near the village of Chanovice on Saturday morning.

Chanovice Mayor Petr Klasek said 265 people joined the march, while last year it was more than 400. However, this seems to be a result of the extremely cold weather and temperatures around minus 20 degrees Centigrade in the morning, he said.

The nine-kilometre march copied the perimeter of the planned underground construction, called Brezovy potok, which would cover 306 hectares underground and 19 hectares above ground.

Klasek said all municipalities in the area have been against the repository for a long time.

Michael Forman, mayor of the district’s centre Horazdovice, said all official statements that have been made by the municipalities concerned since 2003 when the repository was first discussed oppose the idea. Local referendums were against the repository as well.

Local also oppose the geological surveys that the Czech Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO) launched last year, Klasek said.

The municipalities even sued the state for permitting the geological surveys. A court decision has not been issued yet.

In 2012, the government agreed to pay financial compensations to the municipalities for the surveys, but the municipalities in the Horazdovice district rejected the money and said it was a bribe.

Klasek is the spokesman of the Platform against deep repository that was established by several groups and municipalities.

This platform wants a new concept of handling radioactive waste to be discussed and approved, it claims that state institutions ignore the opinions of municipal authorities and citizens, and it protests against the proposed way of the storage of spent nuclear fuel.

SURAO has selected seven sites in which first geological surveys are being carried out. The survey should tell which place is suitable for the repository. In 2020, the government is to shortlist two sites and then the final site will be decided on.

Copyright 2015 by the Czech News Agency (ČTK). All rights reserved.

Monday, 9 January 2017, Prague Daily Monitor, as posted at http://www.praguemonitor.com/2017/01/09/southwest-bohemians-protest-against-nuclear-waste-repository-plan