Earthquake fault discovered offshore of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

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Pacific Gas & Electric Co. officials announced today that they have discovered a new earthquake fault offshore of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The presence of the fault was discovered using new computer programming that allows geologists to better map the epicenters of the many small magnitude earthquakes in the area, said Lloyd Cluff, head of PG&E’s earthquake risk management program, in a summary sent to the California Energy Commission earlier this week. new fault is thought to be smaller than the other fault off the plant’s coastline, the Hosgri fault, but it is closer to shore. The new fault is less than a mile offshore while the Hosgri fault is about three miles offshore.


State drops National Guard patrols at Indian Point nuclear power plant

State drops National Guard patrols at Indian Point nuclear power plant
The state has decided to eliminate fixed patrols at various locations that are at high risk for terrorist attacks. Robert Edmonds, left, and Wayne Grey of the New York Army National Guard patrol at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan last spring.Times Herald-Record/DOMINICK FIORILLE

Alexa James

BUCHANAN — The governor’s office is eliminating National Guard and Naval Militia patrols at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan.

A spokesman for Gov. David Paterson said the troops are not being removed to save money. “This is part of a broader re-evaluation of how best to use New York’s National Guard strength to protect the state,” said spokesman Morgan Hook.

Instead of fixed patrols at power plants, train stations or tourist sights, the state budget says it’s shifting toward “flexible, threat-based, rapid-response units.”

Earlier this year, the governor yanked roughly 95 National Guardsmen from nuclear power plants in upstate Oswego and Lake Ontario.

Daily patrols in high-traffic places like Grand Central Terminal or the subways in New York City, have also diminished over the last six months.

That doesn’t mean New York won’t have troops at the ready, explained Eric Durr, spokesman for the Division of Military and Naval Affairs. The concept is designed so “a potential attacker can’t predict” where troops are working, he said.

Durr had not yet heard of the governor’s plans and said nothing had changed yet at Indian Point.

Roughly 80 National Guardsmen and 15 Naval Militia members are currently assigned to the site at a cost of about $6.25 million, according to the state’s budget division.

The governor’s office declined to say when it planned to withdraw troops from the 2,000-megawatt facility.

Entergy Nuclear, the company that owns and operates Indian Point, maintains its own security force on site. That team is monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Entergy officials said they also were not privy to the governor’s plans. “That’s a decision the state’s going to make, and they’re going to make it with or without our input,” said company spokesman Jerry Nappi.

“Entergy certainly appreciates having the National Guard at our site,” he said, but “if their presence was to be reduced, there certainly would not be any degradation in our security forces.”

The power plant’s critics disagree, citing previous problems with in-house security falling asleep or testing positive for illegal substances.

“The private security forces have shown to be overworked and often undergunned and undermanned,” said Phillip Musegaas, Hudson River Program Director for Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog group that’s fighting to close the plant.

“It’s a great concern to us that (the governor) would pull the National Guard and the Naval Militia,” Musegaas said.

Dallas-based Luminant seeks to expand Comanche Peak nuclear power plant

Dallas-based Luminant seeks to expand Comanche Peak nuclear power plant

09:33 PM CDT on Friday, September 19, 2008

and ERIC TORBENSON / The Dallas Morning News
The two-reactor Comanche Peak nuclear power plant near Glen Rose would expand to four reactors under a federal application that Dallas-based Luminant filed Friday.

The proposed expansion of the Somervell County plant, about 75 miles southwest of Dallas, is part of a nationwide push for nuclear power, which backers hail as clean energy but many environmentalists oppose because of safety and waste concerns.

Getting U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval and building the new reactors could take 10 years and cost from $10.2 billion to $17 billion, according to industry estimates.

Luminant, the generating arm of Energy Future Holdings Corp., which was created in the private buyout of TXU, said it formed a joint venture with reactor vendor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which could take a 12 percent share.

Comanche Peak’s power output would more than double. The two existing reactors, operating since the early 1990s, have a combined output of 2,300 megawatts. The new reactors would produce a combined 3,400 megawatts, which Luminant said would serve 1.8 million average homes.

Power grid managers say Texas will need 15,600 additional megawatts in 10 years if old gas or coal plants shut down.

Luminant filed a 7,500-page combined operating license application with the NRC that would authorize both construction and operation of the new reactors.

Under formerly separate processes, the existing plant took 21 years to build.

Company officials announced the filing Friday before about 150 employees and civic leaders in a ceremony overlooking the two existing reactors. The filing capped two years of advance work.

“It’s a big day for our company and a big day for the state of Texas,” said John Young, chief executive of Energy Future Holdings.

Awareness of the environmental effects of fossil fuel power – from local air pollution to global warming – has boosted the U.S. nuclear industry, which went decades without starting new plants due to the public’s safety concerns and investor reluctance.

Many environmentalists say safety concerns remain, and they note that the federal government has not provided a permanent repository for reactors’ spent fuel rods, which are far more radioactive and dangerous at the end of their useful lives than when new.

This month the NRC began a three-year licensing review of U.S. Energy Department plans to put high-level waste inside Yucca Mountain, Nev.

“Nuclear power is neither safe nor clean,” said Ken Kramer, executive director of the Sierra Club’s Texas chapter.

“From our perspective, you could get pretty far down the road with greater efficiency.”


First block of Visaginas nuclear power plant to be erected by 2018, second – by 2020

First block of Visaginas nuclear power plant to be erected by 2018, second – by 2020

Petras Vaida, BC, Vilnius, 18.09.2008.Print version
The first block of Visaginas nuclear power plant, with the capacity of reactor reaching 1100 megawatts, may be erected in 2016 according to the optimistic plan, or in 2018 according to the pessimistic one. The second block with the same capacity would be erected in two years and it would start operating in 2018 or 2020 according to the corresponding plans. The erection of the third block with the same capacity is not foreseen in the long-term activities strategy until 2022 of the national investment company LEO LT.

LEO LT heads and shareholders presented the aforementioned strategy to the Government”s supervision committee on Thursday. The strategies also foresee the erection of two electricity links to Poland and Sweden that would be extended in 2014-2016. It is foreseen that the new nuclear power plant will be financed from the finances of the shareholders of LEO LT – the Economy Ministry and private NDX Energija and the electricity links are expected to be extended for the EU financial assistance money and finances accumulated by shareholders from electricity tariffs that are foreseen to be raised next year about 3 cents per kilowatt-hour for residents.

Reactors for the new nuclear power plant are planned to be purchased from U.S. companies, however a tender is yet to be announced for their production, reports ELTA.

“Two nuclear blocks and both electricity links are expected to cost a total of 28 billion litas (8 billion euros), Lithuania will have to allocate 17 billion litas (4.86 billion euros). 3 billion litas (857.9 million euros) will be needed for the electricity bridges, and 14 billion litas (4 billion euros) – for the erection of Visaginas nuclear power plant. Lithuania has to accumulate about 1.5 billion euros (5.2 million litas) for the erection of the first block,” Rymantas Juozaitis, chairman of the board of directors of LEO LT, explained after the strategy presentation.

Currently LEO LT has 600 million litas (171.6 million euros) that have been received as dividends from merged company VST.

Kenya considers nuclear power plant: minister

Kenya considers nuclear power plant: minister

Mon 15 Sep 2008, 14:51 GMT

NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya is seeking investors and technical knowledge to build a small nuclear plant to meet growing electricity needs, its energy minister said on Monday.

East Africa’s biggest economy can generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity compared with peak time demand of 1,050. That capacity includes emergency supplies from independent power producers.

“We are thinking of a small plant to generate about 1,000 megawatts initially. From very rough castings, initially it will cost us about $1 billion,” Kiraitu Murungi told reporters.

The energy minister said the country could become a major electricity exporter to the region if the plans succeed.

“Use of nuclear power for civil and peaceful uses is now accepted globally. So we in Kenya should not be afraid when the word nuclear is mentioned,” Murungi said.

Kenya wants to add a million new connections to its electricity grid over the next five years — doubling the electricity consumer base.

The government is holding a national energy conference next month to discuss ways to boost cost-effective energy supply.

A weekend fire at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant stops reactor indefinitely

A weekend fire at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant stops reactor indefinitely

The transformer damaged in the blaze Sunday will have to be replaced, according to plant officials; the cause of the fire has not yet been determined

By David Sneed

No date has been set for restarting a reactor at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant that was the site of a transformer fire early Sunday.

The burned transformer will have to be replaced. The fire also slightly damaged another transformer and other nearby equipment as well as the plant’s administration building.

Plant workers are still trying to determine the extent of the repairs and the cause of the accident, said Sharon Gavin, spokeswoman for plant owner Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The plant has a replacement transformer on site.

The fire broke out shortly after midnight Sunday when the transformer failed. The transformer is located outside the plant’s turbine building and increases the voltage of the electricity produced by the plant to levels suitable for transmission across the electrical grid.

The plant’s fire department extinguished the blaze. No one was injured, and no radiation was released into the environment.

The fire caused one of the plant’s two nuclear reactors to automatically shut down. The other reactor remains in operation.

The fire also caused plant operators to issue an unusual event notification to federal nuclear regulators and local government officials. It was terminated at 2:31 a. m. Sunday.

The loss of the reactor will not create a power shortage in the state, said Gregg Fishman,

spokesman for the state Independent System Operator, which manages the grid. Extensive use of air conditioners in hot weather can cause power shortages, but temperatures are currently mild, so that’s not a problem.

“Loads are low, and we have plenty of other power sources, so there are no issues,” Fishman said.

Transformer fires are a growing problem as the country’s fleet of nuclear power plants ages, said David Lochbaum, with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nuclear watchdog group. There have been 60 transformer fires at nuclear plants since 1978, according to the group.

“All of the transformers are reaching the wear-out stage,” he said.

Plant operators do not consider the fire to be an aging component issue, Gavin said. The transformer that failed was eight to 10 years old.

A transformer fire May 15, 2000 caused the shutdown of Diablo Canyon’s other reactor.