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First concrete for second Belarus unit
Construction of unit 2 at the Ostrovets plant in Belarus is underway following the pouring of first concrete for the reactor's basemat. Both units should be in operation by 2020.Some 4500 cubic metres of concrete was poured for unit 2's foundation in a 20-hour operation, the State Entity Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate (Belarus AEC) reported.Belarus AEC deputy director general for capital projects Andrei Barkun was cited by the Belta news agency as saying, "The foundation pit has been dug and concrete bedding has been fulfilled. Work is now in progress to build the foundation for the building of the second power-generating unit." He added, "The construction of the reactor compartment has advanced far. The work is in full swing."The Ostrovets plant will comprise two 1200 MWe AES-2006 model VVER reactors, developed by the Saint Petersburg AtomEnergoProekt. The main construction contract was awarded to AtomStroyExport in October 2011, while a $10 billion turnkey contract was

NSQ-100: ‘Plane’ sailing for nuclear supply chain?
Précis:  Airliner OEMs are reporting a quality control programme in the supply chain that has yielded significant savings. A new programme emerging from the nuclear sector aims to learn from this experience. “International organisations issue guidance to member states and licensees but it is guidance and not mandatory. That’s the same for aerospace and nuclear. However, in aerospace there is far more consistency and cooperation between regulators and regulations,” explains Greg Kaser,senior project manager at the World Nuclear Association (WNA). Image:  Primary Event:  Nuclear Supply Chain Conference, Europe Premium`:  No Image Caption:  NSQ-100 –

Lift for Leningrad II reactor vessel
At the construction site of Leningrad Phase II unit 1, the 327-tonne reactor pressure vessel was positioned this week using a new technique in the Russian industry. Instead of bringing the component in horizontally through an equipment hatch in the reactor building wall, contractor Titan-2 opted for a new 'open' method of installation. This saw a crawler crane lift the RPV and lower it into place through the still-open roof of the reactor building. It had to pass between the beams of the polar crane with just centimetres to spare on either side.Yuri Galanchuk, head of the Leningrad Phase II project, said this technique "considerably simplifies the installation of the reactor vessel and reduces risks by reducing the number of operations from eight to three." The crawler crane can also operate more accurately than the plant's own polar crane could, "ensuring the accuracy and quality of installation," said Galanchuk, adding that some thought will now be given to optimising this new liftin

The Nuclear Energy Panic Attack
Some of the negative writing about nuclear energy has a notably desperate ring about it, as though the last best chance to do away with the atom is slipping, slipping away. Paul Hockenos over at Al-Jazeera America produces a panic attack of an article: Nuclear power, once the cutting edge of technological progress, is now a dinosaur, all the more anachronistic when one looks at the price of renewables, whose costs have plummeted over a decade and will, say experts, continue to decline as technology improves. The wunderkinder [Hockenos works out of Germany] are solar photovoltaic, wind power and bioenergy. Solar and onshore wind prices are now at or quickly approaching market parity in many large electricity markets around the world. In other words, the cheapest renewables are now cost competitive with fossil fuels and nuclear, even without subsidies. This has been the case for some time now in regions with high electricity costs and abundant wind or sunshine. I hadn’t seen the

Who Said It?
Courtesy Wikimedia CommonsIt's a quiet Thursday morning in Washington, so I decided we ought to play a game of "Who said it?" Here's today's quote:"To be sure, nuclear power is the largest source of low-carbon electricity in the country, a major selling point." Leave your guess in the comments. No Googling! Back with an answer this afternoon.UPDATE: We're running this contest on Facebook too. No correct answer yet.AND THE ANSWER IS ... Elliott Negin. Ironically, Elliott is the Director of News & Commentary for the Union of Concerned Scientists. Mr. Negin wrote that line on June 2, 2014 in the Huffington Post.

Will MENA new-build set a new standard?
Précis:  The Middle East’s first nuclear programme, in the United Arab Emirates, has been hailed as setting a gold standard for the industry. Will neighbouring nations follow suit? The high construction standard being set at the Middle East’s first nuclear plant could serve as a blueprint for the rest of the region. The Barakah plant that is taking shape in the United Arab Emirates has been repeatedly praised as achieving a ‘gold standard’ in the industry. And sources consulted by Nuclear Energy Insider indicate a lack of native nuclear skills will likely ensure any further projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are handled by experienced vendors under engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts. Image:  Primary Event:  5th Annual Nuclear Construction Confer

Global factors adding to uprate slow down
Précis:  Power plant uprates seem likely to dwindle as data from the world’s largest nuclear market, the US, indicates fewer approvals in years to come. We look at the global factors and mass uprate programmes in recent years contributing to the uprate slow-down. But could things change direction? Global uprate activity looks set to fall given a sharp decline in forthcoming approvals in the USA, the world’s largest nuclear market. As of the end of March 2014, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) had approved 154 power uprates, representing 7,035MWe of new power. “Collectively, these uprates have added generating capacity equivalent to about seven new reactors,” says the NRC web site. There were also up rates pending review for eight reactors, totalling 827MWe. Image:  Primary Event: 

The support to construction of Russian-Finnish NPP Hanhikivi-1 in Finland remains to be strong
The support to construction of Russian-Finnish NPP Hanhikivi-1 in Finland remains to be strong. This was reported to ITAR-TASS by Mrs. Minna Forsstrem, the project director of Fennovoima engaged in the NPP construction jointly with Rosatom.«The support was always stably strong. In this context nothing changed when Rosatom joined the project. She emphasized very favorable public relation to the Russian partner. In her words currently 70 % of public in Puhajoki, the town where the NPP is to be constructed, support the project. “It is a difficult task to achieve better indicators” – she added.Both Finnish and Russian companies informed the public in Puhajoki that the future NPP is practically safe for local environment. «The biggest effect will be from the warm water. We will take the water from the sea for cooling purposes and then it will come back to the sea. This is, in fact, the only impact of the NPP to the environment. And light noise. All corresponding calculations are

UAE health & safety put to the test
Précis:  Contractors building nuclear power plants in the Middle East will be wise to keep construction worker health and safety at the top of the agenda to retain credibility. Construction worker health and safety will need to be a top priority for contractors pondering nuclear projects in the Middle East, sources have warned. “Overall there is a big gap between the standards employers want, and the implementation,” says Jean-Maxime Long, Middle East managing Director at Allen & York Recruitment, a recruitment consultancy specialising in energy projects. Image:  Primary Event:  5th Annual Nuclear Construction Conference, MENA Premium`:  No Image Caption: 

Rostov nuclear power plant is recognized again the best among Russia's NPPs by performance results in 2013
Rosenergoatom officially announced results of the contest for the best nuclear power plant in Russia by performance indicators in 2013. The winner is Rostov NPP. This is the second victory of the plant over the recent three years. To remind, it was recognized the best plant in 2011.Annually, performance of nuclear power plants is evaluated against a number of indicators. The key indicators are efficient electricity production, safety and reliability. So for the second time over three years Rostov NPP managed to be the best in these indicators.In 2013, electricity output exceeded the target by 7.2%. The capacity factor was nearly 98% with the target of about 91%. This is a nuclear industry-wide record. All these achievements are the merit of the plant's team. Of each department. Of each employee. Last year was marked for the plant by multiple inspections, including independent ones. The peer review of the World Association of Nuclear Operators noted perfect operational factors and ident

Why NEI Opposes the Uranium D&D Tax
Alex FlintEarlier today, Alex Flint, NEI's Senior Vice President for Government Affairs, sent the following letter to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Lamar Alexander, concerning the possible reinstatement of the Uranium D&D tax:Dear Chairman Feinstein and Ranking Member Alexander:The $200 million tax on the customers of nuclear utilities proposed in your mark of the fiscal year 2015 Energy and Water Development Act is unreasonable and unjustified.The tax is ostensibly to pay utility customers’ share of decommissioning the federal government’s uranium enrichment plants because of enrichment services U.S. utilities purchased from the federal government from 1969 to 1992.However, those utilities’ contracts with the Department of Energy and its predecessor organizations required full cost recovery. As a result, the utilities’ share of clean-up costs was paid even though the plants, which had produced enriched uranium for the weapons programs, were already contaminated.Despit

Exelon Explains What Happened at 2014 PJM Capacity Auction
Map of PJM InterconnectOver the past few months we've been writing a lot about how flaws in merchant electric markets have been placing significant economic stress on nuclear plants operating in those areas.The latest piece of news on that topic came out late last month when PJM revealed the results of its 2014 Capacity Market Auction - one where three of Exelon's nuclear plants failed to "clear" the bidding. To help provide some clarity on exactly what's going on, we sat down for a Q&A with Joseph Dominguez, a senior vice president at Exelon to ask some questions about what it means for those three plants and the future of the electric grid.NEI: Exelon has said that Quad Cities and Byron in Illinois and Oyster Creek in New Jersey did not clear the PJM capacity auction. Why not?Dominguez: These auction results reveal that the market does not sufficiently recognize the significant value that nuclear plants provide in terms of reliability and environmental benefits. As pr

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