APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

IAEA Director's Report on the Fukushima Daiichi Accident - September 1, 2015

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has just released an absolutely massive report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident.  While there are literally dozens and dozens of previous reports that any researcher can consult (check the stand alone page on this blog for a good list of these) this report appears to attempt to be definitive.  There are thousands of pages of report and annex to go through; I've downloaded the report (which has to be done somewhat laboriously through multiple links) and will report back here on this blog should I find anything especially surprising.


1 SEP 15

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 261

We've had to repost this Carnival because of  HTML errors that crept into the first post while it was being made.  

The Carnival is a rotating feature hosted among the top English language pro-nuclear blogs, and appears each week displaying the top selected posts as designated by either the authors or the publishers.


Next Big Future - Brian Wang

Supercritical Water Cooled Reactors part of Gen-IV Options:  China has announced that it is building a SCWR, with a rating of 1000 MWe and which is designated SCR-1000.  Euratom is collaborating on the fuel design.

X-energy developments;  X-energy recently convened a panel of nuclear energy experts to discuss the design of its pebble (bed) type fuel.  The company plans to utilize this fuel in its pebble bed reactor sometime in the mid-2020's.


Yes Vermont Yankee - Meredith Angwin

Celebrating, Traveling, and a book on Advocacy:  Meredith Angwin will be reducing her activities at her blog, taking some time off to travel.  However, she announces a new book is in the works that will reflect her wide nuclear advocacy experience.


Northwest Clean Energy - John Dobken

Too Much News from Few Facts:  Recently, some pipe flaw indications at Columbia Generating Station have made the news.  While the operator takes these indications seriously, the press has more seriously overblown the issue.  The post contains important data and graphics.

Update:  This second post provides updates to the first on the pipe flaw indications, with more data and graphics.  Readers will be able to have a good handle on the situation between these two posts.


Hiroshima Syndrome - Les Corrice

Gundersen 14 Meltdown Myth:  Arnie Gundersen may well have told the biggest whopper of his career when he asserted recently that Japan missed - by "luck" - having 14 reactor meltdowns after the Great East Japan / Tohoku quake and tsunami.  Les Corrice sets him straight.


Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus

The Future of Nuclear Beyond Gen-IV:  Recently Dr. Marcus was asked what the future of nuclear energy might hold, and might look like, beyond the presently considered "Gen-IV" reactors.  Taken by surprise by this question, she looks at the scope of future applications and asks readers to begin to imagine, guided by some suggestions, that very future.


Energy Reality Project - Rick Maltese

Guest author Michael Mann provides a look at R. E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, and gives a number of valid reasons why the plant's future is important to, and inextricably tied with, the future of the whole surrounding region.  The plant's performance, and focus on quality and safety, are particularly brought into view by veteran plant employee Mann.

Alex Cannara provides a letter to the California Energy Commission, and Rick Maltese talks about California energy, lobbyists, activists, and in particular the prospect of pro-nuclear advocacy by people who are knowledgeable.. and who are regular people too, just like us.  Well worth a look.


Forbes - Jim Conca

Why don't nuclear scientists get respect?  Jim Conca wonders (not to himself, fortunately for us) why it is that environmental scientists are, as an example, consulted by media on environment matters but why then, on nuclear matters, nuclear experts are not.  Instead, we are forced to sit through dissertations by pop-science talking heads who have never set foot in a nuclear plant.  Conca's article provides a sobering look at who we look to, societally, as "experts."


That's it for this week's Carnival!  All the entries are great, and I thank the authors and publishers.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Physical versus Political Realities and Nuclear Plants - Indian Point

Over the weekend, an output transformer at Indian Point Energy Center in New York failed in a somewhat spectacular manner, as is fairly often the case with oil filled transformers at any power plant or electric substation -- it leaked, burned and exploded and required water and then firefighting foam to extinguish.  This event would have been fairly unremarkable except for the fact that some of the oil, whose volume was added to by firefighting water and foam, went into the Hudson River.  Even that would have been something likely contained to local news services and stations, but because the event occurred at a nuclear power plant, and because politicians are adept at capitalizing on problems to turn them into crises, we now face some 600 news stories on the event world wide.

"Public perception (of nuclear energy) is hindered by the symbiosis of the anti-nuclear lobby (who need public exposure to survive) and the public media (who need controversy to entertain)," said Sir Walter Marshall in a speech to the Atomic Industrial Forum in 1985.  His remarks could be amended to say that anti-nuclear politicians, who also require public exposure and a following to keep their jobs, are tied inextricably to the media -- a media that in this country is largely biased to the left.  And on that left politically is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who missed none of the opportunity to show up at Indian Point's gate for the press.

Cuomo has long been an opponent of having (clean, reliable, carbon free, around the clock) Indian Point operating in his state; the record is quite clear on this fact.  He kept that vein when he issued some of his typically deeply insightful analysis of the plant's situation, as reported by the AP.

When asked about environmental impact of the oil that reached the river, he said "obviously it's not good."  Well, the fact is that Entergy Nuclear's environmental contractors were on site the same day and this morning's report from Indian Point is that the oil is mostly contained to an area set up by floating booms and that very little has entered the larger waterway.  So Cuomo, without any real knowledge of the spread or the impact (which he could have had none of at the early hour he made the quote) steps out on a limb of credibility -- a limb which none of the media will shake or test.

Cuomo is quoted as having uttered this gem:  "Luckily, this was not a major situation.  But the emergency protocols are very important.  I take nothing lightly when it comes to this plant specifically."

"This plant specifically?"  Well, naturally - you're against the nuclear plant itself.  You'd like to drive up energy prices, drive down grid reliability, and drive up carbon emissions overall by shutting it down -- which panders to your environmentalist base.  The problem is that the plant's operating experience shows it to be safe and reliable. This is why Cuomo must by needs speak in such vague terms. Vague accusations are the stock in trade of the anti-nuclear politician.  They are carried instantly and breathlessly by the compliant media who needs such fabricated controversy to sell advertising spa-- sorry, I mean to sell news stories.

So the situation boils down to this:  Unit 3 at Indian Point was forced to shut down immediately as a result of the failure, and because most folks don't have transformers this big just sitting around and because even if you do they take time to put in, the unit might be down several weeks.  The impact of the oil and extinguishing measures was mitigated and contained as rapidly as possible... probably FAR more rapidly than if it had occurred at some unmanned remote substation.  There was no impact to the public at large at any time.  However, hundreds of news items (many of which are just the same AP piece reprinted over and over) are carrying the klaxon alarm of Cuomo, who vows to get to the bottom of the event.

A transformer failed.  Some oil got in the water, but its impact is minimal.  The plant is all right; the nuclear portion is safe, and stable.  Return to your home, Governor Cuomo - there really is nothing to see here except you, grandstanding for votes.

Will Davis  - May 11, 2015

Monday, April 13, 2015

TVA Backs off Bellefonte

Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, courtesy TVA

TVA has announced both in public form and in an official "road map" for its future that the two unit Bellefonte nuclear station is no longer intended for completion.

This plant was part of a wave of nuclear plants ordered by TVA in the late 60's and early 1970's when TVA was facing what it saw as enormous increases in demand through the 1970's.  As those estimates proved overly high, TVA began to cancel nuclear plants it had ordered.  The cutoff for TVA was not like that, though, for other utilities; while it completed some plants and outright cancelled others, there were some units that were slowed down, or you might say "put on ice" -- the two Watts Bar units (the first of which was completed after a long time period, and the second of which is due to be completed this year, i.e. 2015) and the two Bellefonte units.

The Bellefonte plant was officially ordered in August 1970, at which time TVA ordered two of Babcock & Wilcox's largest and most powerful Nuclear Steam Supply Systems (NSSS) of the day - the Babcock -205.  These units were to have been rated at roughly 3760 MWt / 1175 MWe (first figure from B&W "Steam" 38th ed. 1975 and second figure from AEC publication WASH-1174-71) and were to have been completed and in commercial service in 1977 and 1978 (WASH 1174-71.)

At the same time as Bellefonte was ordered, TVA ordered the two Watts Bar units (Westinghouse 1169 MWe, intended for completion originally in 1976-1977 and for which construction permits were acquired immediately, unlike Bellefonte.)

TVA actually cancelled outright three entire nuclear power stations which were ordered after Bellefonte.  In December 1972 TVA ordered four GE BWR units for the Hartsville A1 and Hartsville A2 sites; in August 1974 it ordered two more for Phipps Bend and two more for Yellow Creek.

August 1982 saw the first round of cancellations.  In that month, Hartsville B1 and B2 were cancelled (17% and 7% complete, respectively) and so were Phipps Bend 1 and 2 (29% and 5% complete, respectively.)  Two years later, in 1984, TVA cancelled Hartsville A1 and A2 (44% and 34% complete, respectively) and also cancelled Yellow Creek 1 and 2 (35% and 3% complete, respectively.)  Clearly, it can be seen by the completion percentages that not all of the units were being constructed at the same pace -- deferral of work had already been taking place.

All of the nuclear units TVA ordered prior to August 1970 were completed (Browns Ferry, Sequoyah).  Only one of the four ordered in August 1970 has been completed (Watts Bar Unit 1, not completed until 1996) although another (Watts Bar Unit 2) will be.  All of the units ordered later than August 1970 by TVA were cancelled.  The only "in limbo" units with any state of completion that could offer hope of operation are Bellefonte 1 and 2, although it should be pointed out that some components of these units were removed and scrapped over the years and would need to be completely replaced.

Knowing that last set of facts and the fact that TVA has expected nearly flat demand growth for some time (this was said way back when the plan to build a Generation mPower SMR plant at Clinch River was in the works and this author was told then that TVA did NOT need the power these units would generate, by an inside source) it isn't surprising at all that Bellefonte is on the chopping block again.

Now, will TVA cancel these units outright?  Or will it again place them in stasis?  The word is not out on this yet, but when I hear it one way or another as a certainty, I will post that here.

5:45 PM Eastern 4/13/2015

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SNUPPS - Why it mattered then, and should now

Over on the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog, a large and detailed (if not overly involved or technical) article on the SNUPPS nuclear power plant construction project which I wrote has just been published.  My friend and colleague Glenn Williams provided invaluable help both in providing supporting information and peer review for this piece on what must certainly be considered the ultimate conceptual development for project management in the flood of new nuclear plant construction of the 1970's.

The question I need to answer here is this:  Why did I write it?

Frequently today in many varied discussions using every kind of media you can imagine (including the old ones like face-to-face and the phone) I find that knowledge of SNUPPS is non-existent.  Sure, some people have heard of it, but know little or nothing of what it actually was or how it was supposed to operate. 

I first learned about it as a "new nuke" back in about 1988 when I picked up a copy of "The Second Nuclear Era," which mentioned the project a number of times and pointed toward its advanced, standardized (duplicate, actually) nuclear plant design approach.  That book, however, gave no real details of the program.  Since then I've been curious about it and have wanted to write on it.  This reached a crescendo lately as discussions about how new nuclear plant construction in the United States could ever go forward considering the delays and overruns we're seeing with the new plants being built.  I decided that since every time I mentioned an integrated approach such as SNUPPS for US utilities, should they decide to work together, I got either silence or blank stares or even sometimes good questions, it was time to put permanently on the internet something that could show what the concepts of the program were, a bit of how it was carried out, and what some of the challenges turned out to be.

SNUPPS mattered then because of the enormous costs being incurred by delay, and the growing costs of regulation.  The program sought to cut these in an innovative way.  We see these problems now, today.  And they're not going to disappear.

So, having said all that, follow this link to ANS Nuclear Cafe and check out the article.  Feel free to comment on it or ask further questions.  I think we need ... dare I say it ... a paradigm shift again, and something like SNUPPS' management setup could allow a general approach by multiple, disparate utilities to get plants built en masse.

4:10 PM Eastern 3/17/2015

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SMART SMR Moves Ahead - in Saudi Arabia and at Home

SMART SMR Nuclear Plant Integrated Design Concept, courtesy KAERI
It has been announced that South Korea and Saudi Arabia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which includes the construction of SMART Small Modular Reactor nuclear plants.

This follows the formation in January of a separate company to promote export of the SMART SMR.  See the text of Korea Atomic Energy Institute's press release on the formation of SMART Power Company below:


{SPC (SMART Power Co.), an entity responsible for the export of the indigenously developed 100MWe small integral reactor SMART was launched on January 29, 2015.

SPC’s full-fledged activities began with the opening ceremony that took place at its head office building in S Tower, Gwanghwamun, Seoul, with the attendance of important figures from politics and finance such as the invested companies’ CEO, former Prime Minister, lawmakers as well as relevant people from Office for Government Policy Coordination, MSIP and KAERI.

SMART is an integral-type small reactor, developed in 2012 after 15 years of research. It received the first-ever Standard Design Approval (SDA) from a regulatory body for a 100MWe (330MWth) integral reactor. SMART generates only a 1/10 of a large nuclear plant (over 1,000 MWe), but since it is an integral-type reactor it has enhanced the inherent safety by containing  major  components such as a pressurizer, steam generator, and reactor coolant pumps in a single reactor pressure vessel.  It was designed especially for export and can supply a city with a population of 100,000 with 90 Mw electricity and 40 thousand tons of fresh water per day concurrently. .

SPC, founded with the investment of capital and manpower from 6 corporations, including POSCO E&C, PONU Tech, and DAEWOO E&C, will make its proactive activities to promote the export of SMART by devising customized export strategies aligned with the demands of potential importers and by carrying out PR and joint feasibility studies in these countries.

MSIP plans to  form a government-supported consultative body  with the Office for Government Policy Coordination, the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to support SMART export cooperation activities and private businesses.

Keung Koo  Kim, Director  of the SMART Development Division, mentioned that "the potential importers of SMART are countries with small scale electric power grids, countries with scattered population that have difficulty in building grids for a large scale nuclear plant, or those with water shortages" and also pointed out that " Middle East countries that need seawater desalination facilities are one of the prime potential importers." }


It might go without saying, but it was necessary for KAERI - who developed the SMART SMR in the first place - to find some other outlet if it wished this design to move forward, since KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Company) had no desire to build small power plants in the size range SMART would provide.  Proof of this can be found in the ever-increasing size of plants being put on the South Korean grid -- now, the units under construction are model APR1400 which will deliver 1400 MWe to the grid, not the 100 MWe promised by the SMART single unit plant.

SMART SMR exterior view and cutaway (courtesy KAERI) shows classic iPWR configuration
According to early reporting of the deal by Korea Herald the MOU will see a three year development program launched, which will determine feasibility of building SMART SMR nuclear plants in Saudi Arabia.  The feasibility studies will be done by 2018 under this agreement; if plans go forward with one to two units the contracts (again according to early reporting) could amount to as much as $2 billion.

Alan Ahn of the Global America Business Institute, Washington D.C. observes that with "100% Korean technology, a US type 1-2-3 agreement is not required."  Ahn points out that the lack of such agreements definitely "poses barriers" for export of nuclear plants incorporating US technology. 

It is beginning to appear if South Korea is "hitting on all cylinders" now when it comes to nuclear plant export.  The APR1400 plants at Barakah, UAE are on time and on budget.  Now, a MOU (which definitely is not an order for plants, but is definitely the first step) for the KAERI designed SMR is on the books and real, meaningful work studying the construction of power plants using this design in arid locations is about to begin.

I will follow this development and update the story as other details emerge.

1:42 PM Eastern 3/3/2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Links / Reports on Fukushima Daiichi Accident Reports Page

I've added some new links on this blog's "Fukushima Daiichi Accident Reports" page.  Use the link below to get to that page (always also accessible from the right sidebar) and then scroll all the way down.  Particularly the first two links there offer a major spread of further links that could encompass hours worth of reading material on the latest information from METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan) as well as from the IAEA.

Fukushima Daiichi Accident Reports at Atomic Power Review

We're of course watching for results from the muon detection method which it's hoped will fairly accurately detail the location of melted nuclear fuel in the containment vessels / reactor vessels of Units 1, 2 and 3 and will report on that here if and when any details emerge.  The process takes a lot of time, so quick results or preliminary findings aren't really expected.

1:15 PM Eastern 3/2/2015

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 242

It's time for the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers to return to this site, after what seems like a rather long hiatus.  All that hiatus has done is cause you, the readers, NOT to have to endure the torture of the time-honored tradition here at Atomic Power Review -- the guessing game.

Since there's just no getting around it, what is this?

If you answer "well, that's a nuclear power plant!" you get no credit.  The only way to win is to tell me which nuclear plant this is; partial credit for telling me where it is.  The appearance of this nuclear plant is distinctive enough that it can be called unique.  The answer - and why I'm bothering to show it to you in the first place - after our Carnival entries.


Next Big Future - Brian Wang

Correctly Factoring Energy Costs

A paper shows that the failure to describe modern economies adequately is not due to the introduction of calculus into economic theory by the so-called 'marginal revolution' during the second half of the 19th century, when the mathematical formalism of physics decisively influenced economic theory. Rather, the culprit is the disregard of the first two laws of thermodynamics and of technological constraints in the theory of production and growth of industrial economies.

Solar and Nuclear can be built by 2030 to provide non-polluting power

While there have been large scale, significant solar power installations in the US recently they won't cover the entire energy requirement.  Next Big Future covers the solar increases as well as potential nuclear fuel improvements that could lead to a vast uprate of the nation's nuclear power plants.


Neutron Bytes - Dan Yurman

Japan turns ignition key on efforts to restart its nuclear fleet

Estimates vary, but experts converge on a view that at least half of the nation's 48 reactors will make progress toward, or restart, by the end of 2015.  Also, five-to-seven units in the 40-plus club may set out on the road to decommissioning by March 2016.


Forbes - James Conca

2014:  The Year In Energy

Energy soared in 2014, but the place to watch was China.  China has embarked upon the biggest energy expansion in world history and 2014 was the year in which it all came together.  China is diversifying its energy mix like no other country in the world, and now leads the world in almost all energy-related matters.  China now has more natural gas reserves than anyone, has installed more wind and solar than anyone, produces and uses more coal than anyone, and soon will add nuclear power to this list of "mosts." 


Canadian Energy Issues - Steve Aplin

To kick off 2015, carbon concentration in our planet's atmosphere spikes above 400 ppm, again; is this the permanent end of the 300's?

Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues relates the unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in the global atmosphere with the closure less than a week ago of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.  He notes that 2015 marks the end of two eras:  the sub-400 ppm CO2 concentration era, and the end of nuclear power in Vermont. 


ANS Nuclear Cafe

Vermont Yankee - Born of "Yankee Ingenuity," Now No More

Will Davis writes a short epitaph looking back at the pioneering spirit that built New England, led its revolution both in governance and in energy, and relates these events to the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant at the end of 2015.


Hiroshima Syndrome - Les Corrice

TEPCO and the NRA are non-transparent about contaminating the Pacific

It is no longer remotely possible that Fukushima Daiichi groundwater contamination is leeching into the Pacific Ocean.  By not reporting this to the world, TEPCO and the NRA are being non-transparent.


Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus

Nuclear Anniversaries for January - Nautilus, and other launches

As promised, Gail Marcus has published her second monthly list of nuclear milestones at Nuke Power Talk.  She highlights five major milestones this month, and mentions a couple of other events that occurred in January.  Highlights include the first cruise of the NAUTILUS and the startup of two commercial-scale reactors of different types. 


That's it for this week's entries - a big THANK YOU to all who sent in entries on what's usually a pretty slow time of the year for new blog postings.

Now... what was that nuclear power station?

The answer is Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, in the Ukraine -- the largest nuclear plant anywhere in Europe, and presently one of the largest in existence.  The plant has six VVER-1000 nuclear plants, which are all built in a straight line - this, and the plant's sort of wide open views without the presence of cooling towers immediately by the units give it a unique appearance from any angle that is almost immediately recognizable.

Why mention it?  Well, this week, we've learned some things about nuclear power, social media, Russia, the Ukraine, and this power plant.  Here's the short version.

Two units at this plant experienced unplanned events (house power transformer failure) one month apart.  The first time, Unit 3 tripped and was off line for a few days; the second time, Unit 6 came off the grid but didn't trip the reactor (did not scram, that is) and was back on the grid later that day.  No big deal, right?

Wrong.  The first event was referred to erroneously by the Ukrainian PM in public as an "accident."  This took off around the world, led to a bond market shock, and dictated that I make the post you see at this link for the American Nuclear Society.  The second event differed in that it didn't make major news headlines by major media sources, but went viral just on internet social media; however the social media response led to this second and much different post right here on APR.  In both events, it was actually Russian media that initially pushed overblown reports implying dangerous events.  Russian sources continue -- in an unrelated campaign -- to push the idea that Westinghouse fuel will not be safe in Russian-made nuclear reactors (which, of course, has no basis in fact or principle and has been proven wrong conceptually as companies have made fuel for other companies' reactors since the very start of nuclear power.)

What's interesting about the viral response on social media to the second event is that it used two new Twitter hashtags -- "#FukushimaAgain" and "#Chernobyl2015" and (as discovered by myself, Twitter user @doyleclan1, and the World Nuclear Association's Jeremy Gordon,) was spread almost entirely and exclusively by a fleet of robot or spam Twitter accounts.  This clearly was an orchestrated attempt; about sixteen or so accounts were randomly tweeting from a selection of about eight different but fixed pieces of content.  None of the bot accounts responded to us.  Another Twitter user, @swcrisis collected the user names of ten of these apparent bot accounts and reported them to Twitter as spammers.  All of the accounts I saw had little or no bio information and simply said "USA," so as to imply the accounts are American.  Generally young, vibrant and attractive faces were used as account photos.  There was no interaction on these accounts - just tweets being put out.  Each varied as to followers and those being followed.  None was exceedingly large in these numbers.

What this means really is that the "viral" nature of some anti-nuclear hashtags, which makes them appear in "Trending on Twitter" lists, is actually completely phony or else starts that way.  (Not a shock for some folks, is it?) 

The plain facts of the matter are that Ukraine's nuclear plants appear by all indications to be well managed, safe, and those operating and overseeing them appear completely open and honest.  As you'll see if you follow the links I've provided, there is even English language information made available frequently by both the operator of Ukraine's plants as well as the nation's nuclear regulator.  Even the IAEA has spoken up to say that conditions there are nothing to worry about - so clearly IAEA itself is on the spot. 

This entire exercise has been incredibly helpful and instructive to me in a number of ways - I hope that not only nuclear communicators but mainstream media people see this post, read it, and understand it.  The point is that there is no reason to believe Russian news sources about these things, when Russia clearly wants to help Ukraine collapse so it can move in; also, for media, there is a time to call Bill Nye for a fun interview or Michio Kaku for something far out... and then there's a time to contact us (ANS, or NEI, or WNA, etc.) to get real, straight information on reported, supposedly dangerous events at nuclear power plants.

Or you could just look yourself and see what the Ukrainian nuclear plants' owner says.. or what their nuclear regulator says.  It's your call, MSM, but pick one.  Oh, and one more thing - ignore trending on social media.  It might be phony.


Photos of Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant courtesy ENERGOATOM.

11:00 PM Eastern 1/4/2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ukraine Nuclear Plants - Resources and Information

For the second time, Russian news sources have reported an incident at a Ukrainian nuclear plant as a much more serious event than it actually was.  The first time this happened is documented by a post I made for the American Nuclear Society; this time, a house load transformer at Zaporizhzhya Unit 6 was the culprit, causing the unit to reduce power to 10 percent and come off the grid.  The unit was back up quickly with no negative effects to anyone inside or outside the plant.

Since it would appear that these news outlets will continue to misrepresent events at this (and perhaps other) Ukrainian nuclear plants, I've decided to construct a post that will give quick links to resources you can use yourself to check on conditions of Ukraine's nuclear plants.

Ukraine's Nuclear Plants

The operator of Ukraine's nuclear plants, all of which date originally from the days of the former Soviet Union, is Energoatom.  Its home page in English is here

There are four nuclear power stations in Ukraine; the one in the news recently and largest in Europe is the massive Zaporizhzhya NPP; Rivne NPP, South Ukraine NPP and Khmelnytska NPP round out the fleet.

•Rivne NPP (sometimes seen as "Rivno") is the oldest of the sites.  The site was originally named the "West Ukraine" NPP and began construction in 1973 with two units of type VVER-440.  These plants were constructed using the updated (1974) V-213 plant design that had vastly improved containment as compared to the older V-230 plant design, and Units 1 and 2 came on line in 1980 and 1981.  The site was expanded by two VVER-1000 plants, units 3 and 4 which came on line in 2004 and 2006 respectively after a construction hiatus.  A planned fifth unit, also a VVER-1000 was never built.  All four units continue in operation today.

South Ukraine NPP is actually part of an enormous energy center called the "South Ukraine Power Complex," which includes not only the nuclear plant but a large pumped storage power plant and a hydro-electric station.  South Ukraine NPP is a three unit plant with Units 1, 2 and 3 being VVER-1000 type.  Originally planned as a two unit station.  The units came on line in 1982, 1985 and 1989 and work together with the Tashlyk Hydro Pumped Storage Power Plant and the Olexandrivska Hydro Power Plant in providing energy for the area.  (The combination of the nuclear plant and pumped storage plant is mentioned in this post on load following nuclear plants.)

•Zaporizhzhya NPP (sometimes seen as  "Zaporizhia" or "Zaporozhye") was ordered in 1977, began construction in 1979 and is Ukraine's (and Europe's) largest nuclear plant.  The site houses six VVER-1000 reactor plants, Units 1 through 6 which came on line between 1984 and 1995 and also houses a large, dry, above ground spent fuel facility placed in operation in 2004.  This plant has its own website

•Khmelnystska NPP (sometimes seen as "Khmelnitskaya") is presently a two unit nuclear station with two operating VVER-1000 nuclear plants, Units 1 and 2 which came on line in 1987 and 2004 - the second unit being held up by the general Ukrainian nuclear construction moratorium 1991-1993.  Two further units, Units 3 and 4 are partially complete on the site (75% and 28% respectively) and Energoatom plans to complete these plants in the future (although no completion date is given on the company's website.)


-Ukrainian nuclear regulator

Ukraine's regulator is the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine; its English language website is located here.  News items are available as they're translated. 

-Ukrainian nuclear plant status

The status of Ukraine's nuclear plants is updated daily at this link.  Click on the most recent date.


Energoatom's Press Center in English is here.

Energoatom has a wonderful photo gallery here that nuclear communicators may wish to access.

The above links and information should give nuclear communicators what they need to find the truth, quickly, in the case of further misleading stories about nuclear plants in the Ukraine.

I welcome the inclusion of further links readers may wish to provide.

Sources consulted include "Soviet Nuclear Power Plants," David Katsman, Delphic Associates 1986

1:15 PM Eastern 1/2/2015


Additional Information for reference - updated 4 PM 1/2/2015

Zaporizhzhya NPP events at Unit 3 on November 28, 2014 and at Unit 6 on December 28, 2014 both were related to the "house power transformers" at the units -- transformers that supply power to the many electrical loads inside the nuclear plants themselves if the turbine generator is not operable or trips.  In the case of the November 28 event, Unit 3 shut down at 19:54 hours safely and was back on the grid on December 6.  In the case of the December 28 event, Unit 6 took its generator off the grid at 05:50 hours but did not experience a reactor trip (scram, or shutdown) and returned its generator to the grid at 22:35 hours the same day.

Unit 3 event press release by Energoatom

Unit 3 event press release from IAEA

Unit 6 event press release from Ukraine nuclear regulator

The event on 28 November has been rated by IAEA as INES Level 0 (zero.)  That on December 28 has not yet been rated by IAEA but is an almost identical circumstance and can be expected as 0.

Friday, December 26, 2014

News from South Korea leads on the wires at year's end

Kori Nuclear Plant, South Korea - courtesy KHNP

Anyone reading the news over the last week -- international news, that is -- has seen stories here and there on the hacking of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power in South Korea.  On one particular day, I noticed almost 250 stories about this topic listed by Google's news search.  There is much hyperbole going around, very little fact, and frankly no positive official resolution as of yet.


Here's what we know.  On December 9, a number of emails were sent to various personnel at KHNP in administrative capacities which were addressed from well known but retired former nuclear industry members.  These accounts had in fact been hacked.  The emails contained a malware package that then downloaded itself onto the computer being used, and after arranging for information to be sent out set a timer to destroy the hard drive with only a black screen showing the phrase "Who Am I?" left visible.  The hack accessed a number of what might be called proprietary drawings and plans for KHNP nuclear plants (not the newest, so far as is known) as well as reactor core accident analysis models (these are computer programs or codes) or perhaps just the guides for these, as well as personal data of thousands of KHNP and/or KEPCO (Korea Electric Power Company) employees.

The hacker(s) threatened to destroy by meltdown three specific reactors in South Korea if they were not shut down by Christmas.  The hacker(s) did offer the return of the stolen materials but did so with the request for money.  The group said to be behind this is an anti-nuclear group in Hawaii; the actual perpetrators may be in the U.S. or China or both.

Here's the important fact everyone needs to know:  The hackers, even with the apparent high level of skill used in these attacks, cannot access by internet or radio or short wave or any other interactive means any of the control and monitoring equipment for the nuclear reactors.

Or any nuclear reactors.


The plain fact of this has been repeated time and again by insiders over this week, by KHNP itself, and in a Forbes article by James Conca.  So what's the big deal?  Why, over the last 48 hours, were three plants there surrounded by armed troops?  Why did KHNP / KEPCO perform a two day series of cyberattack drills simulating events occurring to the reactor instrumentation and control requiring manual intervention?

There's only one word for this - and that word is "Preparation."  This is the first time that cyber-war has been specifically targeted in this way against power reactors in South Korea, and since there is apparent high skill on the part of the hackers, no one was about to take the specific, targeted threat lightly. 

The thing to know here is that the computers that were hacked had, or had access to (on mainframe) administrative items.  People's HR info; plant drawings one might use for training or planning; accident analysis codes used both for training and for actual simulation of, say, new fuels; guides for operating various pieces of equipment.  This is like breaking into the trailer of a semi-truck and threatening to disable the engine.  It's part of the truck that was broken into, all right -- but not the cab.  Which isn't accessible via the trailer anyway. 

You still guard the truck.  The WHOLE truck.

Resolution awaits

The final resolution of this act may end up taking a long time.  Attempts involving the FBI in the US and requests for help to China have resulted in scanty details as the hackers are chased across the cyber world, having expertly covered their tracks by using multiple IP addresses.  It may not be known for years -- or maybe, never known -- who actually did this, even if the organization behind it has at least been labeled ("Who Am I" in Hawaii, it's thought.) 

The key of course here is that persons should not open emails with files unless they're expecting those files.  All computers at any plant should have anti-virus running at all times, with appropriate security settings.  Those computers should be firewalled from any plant information if they're on the net. 

Hollywood - right on time, oddly, again

Now, just as this all hits the fan we see coming out a new cyber-combat-war-intrigue movie called "Blackhat," in which hackers supposedly not only hack but control and then melt down and then cause to explode (we're not yet clear on all this) a reactor or two in Taiwan.  Some details.

•There are nuclear plants in Taiwan.
•Their instrumentation and control is not on the net either.
•Unless there's a massive inside job, this isn't any more possible than in South Korea.

The ONLY way this can happen is with an inside job, and something like the whole STUXNET debacle happening.  Believe me though - those lessons were learned.

And we must remember -- the explosions that happened at Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 and 3 (and secondarily at Unit 4) were caused by hydrogen and perhaps carbon monoxide combustion as a result of the core damage to the reactors.  These were NOT explosions of the reactors - the buildings exploded because they were filled with combustible gases.

Now, no one can say that these types of events such as Fukushima Daiichi CAN'T happen (this is why we have such elaborate containment in the first place -- and note that at Three Mile Island, the same thing happened but not no damage occurred because of the completely different containment building design) but we will have to wait and see what this movie is actually saying was done.

Ah, and there was that name -- Three Mile Island.  You know, the accident that occurred right around the time the movie "The China Syndrome" came out?  (Some people think this is no coincidence;  I disagree, but the timing could not have been more striking.)  Now we have this event of cyber threat and right at the same time a movie on the way about it.  Does Hollywood mirror events, or do events follow Hollywood?  Not sinister; just interesting.

Shin-Kori Units 3,4,5 and 6 - APR1400 type.  Courtesy KHNP

Good news

There was a piece of good news that came out of South Korea, but because of the frenzy over the hacking job, it was missed or skipped.  On December 23, KHNP submitted documents to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to get the Design Certification for the APR1400 back moving in the United States.  This reinvigorates a process that NRC had halted in December 2013 when it rejected the Design Certification Application from KHNP citing incomplete information.  So, as I reported earlier this year for the American Nuclear Society, it still looks as if the next design to be certified in the US will probably be the APR1400 - which will be a major feather in the cap for KHNP and is considered an icebreaker to further export of the design worldwide.

1:00 PM Eastern 12/26/2014