There’s more than just the four reactors at Vogtle and V.C. Summer riding on the outcome of the dueling press releases between Westinghouse and the NRC. There are plans for eight more AP1000 reactors – four in Florida, two in North Carolina, and two in South Carolina. The next two AP1000s likely to be built are to be located near Miami at the Turkey Point power station operated by Florida Power & Light. The approval of the AP1000 design is turning into a high stakes outcome with much of the future of nuclear reactor construction in the U.S. over the next two decades riding on it. No other reactor vendor comes close.
Margaret Harding has a third look at lessons learned from Fukushima. This third and final part is to look at the broader impacts and see what lessons we can learn at the political level.
1. NISA independence and oversight
There are clear indications that TEPCO as the largest nuclear utility in Japan had far too much influence on NISA, including some preferred hiring practices
2. Political Interference – domestic
There have been reports that Prime Minister Kan of Japan was too involved in the response to the Fukushima incident. We’ve heard that he tried to prevent seawater injection and his desire to fly over the site delayed some of the vital activities.
3. Political Interference – International
One of the most egregious examples of political grandstanding was NRC Chairman Jaczko’s presentation before Congress on March 16th. He declared that the unit 4 pool was dry and likely on fire and recommended a 50 mile evacuation zone for US citizens. The Japanese government vehemently denied the allegation and was ultimately proven correct.
4. International Emergency Response
The international nuclear community was frustrated by its inability to provide immediate help to the stricken nuclear facility. Suggestions have been floated to create an international “strike team” that would be available at a moment’s notice to fly to any plant that is in trouble. The idea has a certain appeal, especially to those who like heroes to ride to the rescue in dramatic fashion. I’m not convinced such a scheme is practical.
UK continues on path to rebuilding a complete new sets of reactors.
The Finnish government said that it has sent bid documents to Areva and Toshiba for responses to build a new nuclear power station. The new plant will need to generate up to 1,700 MW and be ready to produce power by 2020 at a cost of $6-9 billion
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted 20-year license renewals to the two reactors in Salem County, New Jersey. The two pressurized water reactors have been operating since 1977 and 1981 and generate just over 1,100 MW each.
NuScale has been recalling some laid off employees. They have obtained “bridge funding” from an undisclosed investor group, allowing the firm to restore about 20 positions. They are trying to make a 45-MW plant which would cost a utility about $180 million.
Nextigfuture – Germany is set to turn back to coal, gas and imports to fill the energy chasm left by its fast-track exit of nuclear power. Germany produced 140.6 terawatt hours (TWh) of nuclear power in 2010. Germany produced 102 TWh from renewable energy in 2010, and they are targeted to add 115 TWh by 2020. Even 9 years from now Germany will still not have replaced all nuclear power with renewables. Some Uranium projects in Ukraine and Kazakhstan. The French Astrid breeder reactor.