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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 4:34 am 
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The North Anna site recently switched back to the ESBWR again:

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-ES ... 04134.html

But what is the licensing status on this reactor? The NRC website says there are issues with the steam dryer/seperator unit. Which is a non-safety component. Despite that they've been inactive since september 2011.

http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactor ... edule.html

They've taken 8 years and still haven't given the license. On the simplest reactor system on the market today.

What's wrong with this organisation? A dangerous complicated oil refinery can be fully licensed in 1 year where I'm from. A nuclear plant many times safer and simpler can't be licensed in 8 years???


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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 7:27 am 
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8 years is really astonishing. They will be completely out of their depth if they have to license advanced nuclear reactors such as MSRs. The NRC is something of a one-trick LWR pony show. Perhaps licensing of MSRs by the NRC will take 50 years or more...


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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 7:51 am 
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camiel wrote:
8 years is really astonishing. They will be completely out of their depth if they have to license advanced nuclear reactors such as MSRs. The NRC is something of a one-trick LWR pony show. Perhaps licensing of MSRs by the NRC will take 50 years or more...


Even for LWRs they are an incompetent bureaucracy. They take 8 years and still produce no license, for a simple design that has already been licensed at a somewhat lower power level, the SBWR. It is just a bigger version of that. 8 months would be generous enough for such a simple change over an already licensed design.

The level of incompetency and bureacracy is so extreme, it can only be explained as deliberate, ie an organisation to bog down nuclear power development and innovation in the USA, permanently.


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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 9:33 am 
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It takes two to tango, and I'm wondering if GE's recent seeming lack of enthusiasm for building reactors might be a major part of this story. I also am curious of GE's apparent new enthusiasm for the ESBWR as (seemingly) evidenced by Dominion Virginia Power's decision choosing it. GE has very good ties with Saudi Arabia. SA's VP for KACARE (King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy) was reported recently to state that: of their 16 reactor construction program (which others estimate might be twice that amount), they will choose more than one vendor; and, they will choose new designs that have actually been built and proven. Perhaps this is part of the Dominion story, GE wanting a piece of the Saudi action. (Not to disagree that the NRC is a roadblock to development; and in my opinion, another example of regulatory capture by industry--the wrong industry in this case, fossil fuels.) It also seems possible to me that the Shale Gas abundance myth is becoming more widely appreciated; as is the Peak Oil analysis. The Saudi nuclear program can only underline this conclusion. GE can't be unaware of all this.


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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 11:55 am 
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GE's lack of dedication and perseverance to nuclear new build is a potential problem, but it doesn't explain much to me. After all, Westinghouse has had a similar experience, with the already licensed AP600 converting to AP1000 taking an inordinate amount of time, even though it was the same story, just an uprate of the already licensed AP600. Westinghouse is much more serious about new build.


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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 1:41 pm 
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Didn't GE announce within the past year that they were no longer going to support nuclear work?

_________________
DRJ : Engineer - NAVSEA : (Retired)


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PostPosted: May 03, 2013 11:06 pm 
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Ap-1000 was sanctioned and built in China before being approved in the US. This could be the way of future. The Chinese have to do it because a large number are being built.
It may be possible to outsource the examination through the IAEA!


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PostPosted: May 04, 2013 12:31 pm 
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Joined: Apr 28, 2011 10:44 am
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Cyril R wrote:
camiel wrote:
8 years is really astonishing. They will be completely out of their depth if they have to license advanced nuclear reactors such as MSRs. The NRC is something of a one-trick LWR pony show. Perhaps licensing of MSRs by the NRC will take 50 years or more...


Even for LWRs they are an incompetent bureaucracy. They take 8 years and still produce no license, for a simple design that has already been licensed at a somewhat lower power level, the SBWR. It is just a bigger version of that. 8 months would be generous enough for such a simple change over an already licensed design.

The level of incompetency and bureacracy is so extreme, it can only be explained as deliberate, ie an organisation to bog down nuclear power development and innovation in the USA, permanently.


It is not deliberate in the sense of out to sabotage nuke. Rather the regulators are just being rational given the rules of the game.

If an NRC regulator actually approves a design, too bad things happen from his point of view.
a) The cash flow stream he was getting from the applicant disappears,
and a portion of his team and possibly he himself are out of work.

b) His neck is on the line. He gets no benefit from the plant if all goes well,
but he owns any problems.

So the obvious thing to do is keep finding new analyses, new calculations that have to be done
while at the same time continuously encouraging the applicant that we are almost there,
lest he go away with his money.


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PostPosted: May 04, 2013 1:50 pm 
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Yes, the conflict of interest is definately a factor that isn't helping. It's a bit different here with industrial licensing. Basically the regulator here gets paid, by the companies, for giving off licenses. It also receives cash flow from the government to do basic safety and other environmental tasks. It works fairly well, could use an improvement in terms of more common sense and less regulations, but it works well enough and produces licenses quick enough (6 months is the formal period for a new industrial facility license).

The first thing that has to change with a regulator is that it must be paid for producing licenses that are demonstrably safe. Endless quality control and new analysis, which appears the focus of today's regulators, isn't helping at all. Nuclear accidents happen when there are design flaws, not because of quality control or analysis errors.

I would suggest an independant oversight body of experts that reviews the licenses based on common sense (not regulations). Simple question, is this safe or not? If the independant body judges it's safe, the regulator gets a lot of money for the license, if not the regulator gets no money and must justify the mistakes and show how it won't happen again in the future.


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PostPosted: May 05, 2013 7:57 am 
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As djw1 points out, there is a very strange incentive structure at work at the NRC.

I think there may be an interesting analogy with aircraft certification. As far as I know, the FAA does not bill Boeing for the certification of new aircraft models, such as the B787 / Dreamliner. Why, on principle, should this be different for nuclear plants ? Aircraft and nuclear plants are both complex pieces of engineering. I don't know how such licensing and fee structures work in other countries when it comes to nuclear plants.

Furthermore, who oversees the NRC and tracks its performance ? The NRC appears to be a true "QUANGO", as they would call it in Britain, a public body that is almost completely unaccountable to anyone.


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PostPosted: May 07, 2013 9:06 am 
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Call me vulgar, but my supposition is that Congress and the presidency are essentially...bought. Why is the NRC a bureaucratic nightmare? Not mainly due to the venal self-interest and clout of its employees I would say, but due to the obvious fact that the House, the Senate and each presidential administration is putty in the hands of Wall Street, Exxon, Chesapeake Energy and all the rest. They like the NRC as it is. Otherwise, they'd listen to Sen. Lamar Alexander, and change it. Or am I missing something? The FAA serves another industry that has an interest in good regulation: the airlines and airline manufacturers (e.g. Boeing). Poor safety practices in commercial aviation are a profit-killer. But the FAA is not such a nightmare as the NRC. I don't think the railway and Greyhound lobbies have enough power in Washington to mess with the FAA, as the fossil fuel industry has to mess with the NRC.
The nuclear industry formed INPO in 1979 (http://www.inpo.info/AboutUs.htm) It seemingly works quite well, and was held up as a model that the oil companies should emulate in the wake of the BP Gulf Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster of 2010. And to my knowledge, this advice was ignored. "Screw the public, because, well, we can get away with it!" might be their motto. But INPO is not chartered by Congress and the government. The NRC is.
I project NRC reform to happen when such reform is seen to be in the interest of Goldman Sachs, Exxon, and their brethren. In so far as Gen IV reactors can provide industrial heat for refineries, chemical plants etc etc, and is attracting their decision-makers, this may not be a pipedream.

This may be ill-informed guesswork, but if someone is more informed, I'd like to hear it.


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PostPosted: May 07, 2013 12:07 pm 
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I wouldn't want to speculate on any conspiracy theories, but it's clear that the interests of fossil fuel lobby (especially coal and gas) consider nuclear a major threat. And rightfully so, it is superiour in almost any aspect technically, when it comes to delivering baseload electricity (the biggest market, about 70-80% in kWhs) in large grids. Whereas the solar and wind toys, they know are just minor solutions that, even when heavily subsidized, will still require a majority fossil fuel grid to "back them up" (quite possibly the energy understatement of the century).

Nuclear plants also take a long time to build so even succesful builds can't be used by politicians to brag about the many jobs and cheap electricity supply that are created. Indeed, radiation is scary so opposing nuclear development is an area where politicians can score points.

Can we have some love for new nuclear plants, please.


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PostPosted: May 08, 2013 2:44 am 
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Even the wall street will respect profit and loss accounts.
Licensing delays apart, how does it stand in economic functioning. Chinese, and Koreans to some extent, are independent of wall street.


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PostPosted: Apr 22, 2014 4:56 am 
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Recent news:

http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/2 ... ?p=2&tc=pg

They are now looking to september this year for certification. But of course, the NRC has an escape built in already so they can delay some more...


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PostPosted: Apr 22, 2014 9:23 am 
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China started building the AP1000 before it was licensed by the NRC. GE could have pushed the ESBWR elsewhere (I think), but Immelt is just not interested.

The story that is now circulating that Westinghouse is set to get a contract for 8 more AP1000's in China (with some additional units at other sites possible), might cause GE to finally start rethinking their policy.

http://af.reuters.com/article/commoditi ... 21?sp=true


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