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An 80-Year Run for Nuclear Reactors?

From the New York Times;

With the so-called “nuclear renaissance” looking smaller and slower than predicted, some in the nuclear industry are focusing on running existing plants longer — not only for their initial 40-year licensing period and the 20-year extension already allowed, but for a second 20-year extension.

“If you would have looked five years ago at the number of plants people were intending to construct and then you look today, it’s clear with the economic conditions we face in our nation, they’re pushing the builds out there,’’ said Maria Korsnick, the chief nuclear officer with Constellation Energy Group. (In industry-speak, that means delaying construction.)

In fact, her own company dropped out of a partnership to build a third reactor at its Calvert Cliffs site, 50 miles south of Washington, last month.

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Be very, very quiet; I'm Hunting Radioative Rabbits

From Physics Central:

A radioactive rabbit that was on the loose this week in the Hanford former nuclear reactor site in Washington state prompted state Department of Health workers to hunt for contaminated rabbit droppings in the area.

The radioactive rabbit was among several bunnies captured over the last few days (a scene which calls to mind an iconic moment in Monty Python and the Holy Grail) at the site near Richland, Wash. The hopping critters were rounded up for testing after contaminated rabbit droppings were found last week. Only one rabbit tested positive for radiation contamination.

State department of health workers used hand-held radiation-detecting instruments to look for contaminated droppings. After capturing the afflicted rabbit, the amount of tainted droppings they found decreased, leading them to believe only one rabbit was affected. None of the droppings, so far, have been found in areas accessible to the public.

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Power plant's outage program continues apace

From CourierPostOnline.com:

Oyster Creek Generating Station employees will continue working on replacing underground pipes during a planned outage as part of the state's tritium remediation project.

The power plant entered its planned refueling outage program on Monday morning.

More than 5,000 gallons of water have been pumped to date as part of the remediation project. Exelon Corp., the owner and operator of the Forked River-based power plant, shut down the reactor at 12:01 a.m. for a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage.

According to a statement Monday from Exelon Communications Manager David Benson, throughout the outage, workers will perform approximately 9,500 activities on a variety of plant components and systems, including replacing both of the station's main transformers, as well as finishing the majority of a 16-month, $13.3 million project to move pipes containing tritium above ground or into monitored vaults.

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VA to improve cooling capacity at Browns Ferry

From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

The Tennessee Valley Authority will spend up to $160 million here over the next three years, trying to stay out of hot water at its biggest nuclear power plant.

TVA Chief Operating Officer Bill McCollum Jr. said the federal utility will add another cooling tower and expand four of the six existing towers to better cool water from the Tennessee River that's used for power generation at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant.

The work should be done by 2013, TVA officials said.

TVA rejected a similar proposal in 2005 when officials projected that the extra cooling capacity was not needed to keep the river within thermal limits set by state regulators. But hot weather forced TVA to limit Browns Ferry generation during two of the past four summers when river water temperatures approached allowable limits.

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Nuclear Power Benefits From Republican Wins, NRG Says

From Bloomberg:

Electricity producers such as NRG Energy Inc. and Southern Co. will benefit as Republicans who won control of the U.S. House yesterday promote nuclear power as part of clean-energy legislation.

Requirements for the use of renewable power to reduce carbon emissions and encourage U.S. energy independence may win passage if nuclear plants are added to the wind turbines and solar panels favored by environmentalists, said David Crane, chief executive officer of Princeton, New Jersey-based NRG.

“A lot of the things we’re trying to do in Washington to move forward with zero- and low-carbon generation is something that at least the mainstream of the Republican Party wants to support -- nuclear power in particular,” Crane said in an interview. “It’s not just California and Oregon tree-huggers.”

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Reid Victory Likely to Keep Yucca Mountain Sealed

From ScienceInsider:

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada won reelection yesterday in a race with major ramifications for nuclear power politics.

Reid's victory over Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle not only helped the Democrats retain their majority—allowing him to retain his position as Majority Leader but also lets the Obama Administration continue moving forward with its plan to abandon a proposed nuclear waste-disposal project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

One of Reid's big promises to Nevada voters was that this waste site would never be developed on his watch. The Obama Administration has cooperated closely with Reid in closing down the 20-year-old project. And despite efforts by Republicans to embarrass the Department of Energy (DOE) over its apparent deference to Reid in pulling its application for a license, DOE seems likely to stay the course. As a Reid spokesperson commented to the Las Vegas Review-Journal a few weeks before the election: "As long as Senator Reid is majority leader, there will not be a Yucca Mountain. …Yucca Mountain will be dead."

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Peach Bottom to unload spent fuel

From the York Daily Record:

Soon, workers at the nuclear-powered plant will unload more than 60 spent fuel assemblies from a 18-foot cask into the grid-like racks of the power station's spent fuel storage pool, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The assemblies are bundled fuel rods that have been removed from the reactor and replaced with fresh alternates.

Last month, workers found a small amount of the inert gas had leaked from the system on the cask, which is designed to prevent helium inside the 115-ton container from escaping.

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Entergy to put Vt. Yankee on market

From boston.com:

Entergy Corp. will announce this week that it plans to sell the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, confirming months of speculation and perhaps beginning a new chapter in the contentious relationship between the plant and the state, according to a top Vermont utility regulator.

David O'Brien, commissioner of the Department of Public Service, said Entergy Corp. officials told him they planned to announce that they were seeking a buyer for the 650-megawatt reactor.

"My understanding is that there is an impending announcement that they are in fact pursuing a sale of the plant," O'Brien said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

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Radioactive groundwater reported at Va. plant

From WTKR:

Dominion Virginia Power said Monday it is seeking the source of low-level groundwater radiation detected by one of its monitoring stations at its twin-reactor nuclear power plant in North Anna.

The utility said the elevated levels did not pose a health hazard to plant workers or residents, according to a filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The elevated reading was detected in April by one of eight monitoring stations and has since returned to acceptable levels.

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TMI: NRC Report 5000289-2010004

Three Mile Island Station, Unit 1 - NRC Integrated Inspection Report 5000289-2010004

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