In the past week, Ontario’s Bruce A restarted after 17-year hiatus, with hiccups; Indian state approval restarted work to complete Kudankulam; Vermont Yankee turned 40; and Entergy won a new legal round to keep the contested Vermont reactor operating.
Bruce A Restarts After 17-Year Hiatus—With Hiccups
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on Friday approved the restart of Bruce A Unit 2 following shutdown in 1995 and a refurbishment program that began in 2006. The reactor was shut down again early on Saturday, however, after a leak in a pump system was detected during restart activities. The reactor resumed restart activities on Monday afternoon.
The CNSC’s decision means that the Bruce Power unit on the eastern shore of Lake Huron, near Tiverton, Ontario, can safely remove shutdown guarantees. Reactor shutdown guarantees consist of different measures to make criticality impossible. According to the regulatory body, in CANDU stations, a large amount of gadolinium is typically injected in the moderator (heavy water) contained in the calandria. The gadolinium, also referred to as “poison,” prevents fission from occurring. Other precautions are also taken, such as closing and physically locking the valves into the moderator purification system and controlling the moderator’s chemistry.
In making its decision to approve the restart, CNSC staff reviewed submissions from Bruce Power and conducted “numerous inspections” at the facility, the CNSC said. “Staff verified compliance with the licence conditions issued in October 2009. Based on these reviews, the CNSC concluded that Bruce Power has met all of the conditions related to releasing reactor shutdown guarantees in Unit 2. Upon restart, the facility may increase reactor power up to 50% of its capacity.”
Bruce Power operates the Bruce A and Bruce B Nuclear Generating Stations in Ontario. Bruce A, which began operating in 1972, has four nuclear power reactors, each with a capacity of 750 MW. Of these reactors, Units 3 and 4 are operating at full power, while Units 1 and 2 had been shut down for refurbishment to bring them up to present-day operating standards. Bruce Power expects to receive approval to restart Unit 1 in the coming months. Rebuilding and restarting the two reactors is expected to cost C$4.8 billion and extend the units’ production lives by 25 years.
The leak detected on Saturday was due to a defective gasket in the moderator system, Bruce Power said. The leak was entirely contained and the gasket replaced. There was no release to the environment and no plant worker received any dose as a result of the event. The other units in the station were not affected.
Sources: POWERnews, CNSC, Bruce Power
State Approval Restarts Work to Complete Kudankulam
The government of Indian state Tamil Nadu on Monday passed a key resolution approving a continuation of work at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, where two Russian-built VVER reactors are under construction. The state’s cabinet last year passed a resolution asking the central government to halt all project-related work until concerns of nearby villagers were allayed.
The plant’s first 1,000-MW unit could now be ready for approval by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, a federal safety body, to load fuel within two months, an official for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) told The Times of India. NPCIL, a central government entity, owns all of India’s nuclear power plants.
Sources: POWERnews, The Times of India
Vermont Yankee Turns 40; Entergy Wins New Legal Round to Keep Plant Open
A federal judge on Monday handed Louisiana-based Entergy another victory in its legal battle to keep the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant open, saying the state of Vermont could not use a state law to prevent the plant from storing nuclear waste after its initial state-issued license expired on March 21. That date marks the 40th anniversary of the plant.
U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha barred the state from closing the plant over the spent fuel issue because a shutdown could cause “irreparable harm” to Entergy and plant employees. Murtha had in January ruled that the 620-MW plant could remain operating beyond a state-mandated shutdown deadline because it had recently garnered a 20-year operating license extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Vermont’s Public Service Board is considering Entergy’s application for a new certificate of public good, which requests the state’s approval to continue operating the plant for another 20 years.
Sources: POWERnews, Entergy, VPSB