Canada advances four SMR designs towards demo reactor; Finland EPR start-up delayed

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Canada's CNL advances four SMR designs in demo reactor program

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) has received submissions from four international and domestic small modular reactor (SMR) developers to build demonstration plants at a CNL-managed site, the research agency announced June 12.

CNL has designated SMR technology as a research priority and aims to build a demonstration plant on site by 2026.

In 2017, CNL received 19 expressions of interest for a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL site and a further three developers propose to move straight to commercial deployment in Canada. By October, CNL had signed MOU's with seven companies to develop and site an SMR at a CNL facility and projects were underway to support four different reactor types, CNL sources told Nuclear Energy Insider.

"CNL concluded the first intake on June 11, 2018, with responses received from four international and domestic SMR project proponents," CNL said in its latest statement.

"While this intake is now closed, technology developers are welcome to submit their responses at any time," it said.

Under an initial pre-qualification stage, CNL will evaluate technical and business merits of the proposed designs.

This would be followed by a due diligence stage which will include more stringent financial requirements. A third phase will involve the negotiation of land arrangements and other contracts and this will be followed by the signing of an agreement with the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), the owner of the CNL sites.

The final project execution stage would include licensing and construction, testing, commissioning and operation of the SMR plant.

CNL is currently performing generic siting studies at its Chalk River Laboratories and Whiteshell Laboratories to identify the potential locations for the demonstration plants, it said.

Ten advanced reactor developers have already applied for pre-licensing engagement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission [CNSC], using the vendor design review process for new reactor designs.

                     Current pre-licensing vendor design reviews
                                                          (Click image to enlarge)

Source: Nuclear Energy Insider. Data source: CNSC (June 2018).

In February, the Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources (NRCan) launched a national study into the potential for on-grid and off-grid applications for small modular reactor (SMR) technology in Canada. Stakeholder engagement will inform a roadmap for SMR development which is expected to be completed this fall.

Finland EPR full start-up delayed until September 2019

The start-up of "regular electricity generation" from the Olkiluoto 3 (OL3) EPR plant in Finland has been delayed by four months to September 2019 following delays to hot functional tests and commissioning tests, developer Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) said June 13.

An Areva-Siemens consortium is delivering the OL3 plant under a fixed-price turnkey contract. The project is several years behind schedule and costs have soared, prompting court disputes between the supplier and developer.

Following commissioning test results, the supplier consortium will implement a plant modification package over the next few months to update the plant's electrical and instrumentation and control (I&C) systems, TVO said in a statement. In addition, pressuriser surge line vibrations that delayed hot functional tests will be corrected before fuel loading, it said.

The supplier has informed TVO that fuel is now scheduled to be loaded into the reactor in January 2019 and the plant will be connected to the national grid in May 2019 with regular electricity generation expected in September 2019.

"As per the commissioning program, the plant unit will produce 2 to 4 TWh of electricity, at varying power levels, during the period of time between the first connection to the grid and the start of regular electricity generation," TVO said.

Orano, WCS resubmit Texas waste storage proposal

Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture of Orano USA and Waste Control Specialists (WCS), has submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) a renewed license application for a new interim storage facility (CISF) at the existing WCS site in Andrews County, Texas.

The move reinvigorates WCS' quest to build a facility which would initially host 5,000 metric tons (MT) of spent fuel and be expanded to host up to 40,000 MT. The joint venture was announced in March.

"With this submission, ISP is formally asking the NRC to resume its review of a revised CISF license application originally submitted April 2016 and docketed by the NRC for review in January 2017," Orano USA said in its latest statement.

"The revised application reflects the organization of the joint venture along with new leadership, but remains unchanged in its original proposal to securely receive, store, and safely manage used nuclear fuel from shutdown U.S. nuclear reactors at a planned facility built on the existing 14,900-acre WCS low-level waste storage site," it said.

The U.S. currently hosts over 78,000 metric tons (MT) of used nuclear fuel at decommissioned and active reactor sites across 35 states. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has proposed a pilot CISF be built by 2021, followed by a larger storage facility by 2025 and a permanent repository by 2048.

WCS' Andrews County site already hosts a waste disposal, storage and treatment facility for Class A, B, and C low-level nuclear waste.

The CISF project was delayed in 2017 after a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) blocked a takeover bid for WCS by EnergySolutions. The DOJ argued the proposed takeover would be anti-competitive as the combined company would be the only waste disposal option for operators in nearly 40 states. Following this, JF Lehman & Company (JFLCO) acquired WCS in January 2018. JFLCO already owns Northstar, the specialist decommissioning group.

Holtec is also aiming to build a CISF between the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs in New Mexico.

In March, Holtec announced the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted Holtec's license application for a facility that would house 8,680 MT of spent fuel.

Nuclear Energy Insider