Friday, 23 August 2013

AECL provides information on heavy water event

AECL provides information on heavy water event:

“The following information bulletin is in accordance with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited’s (AECL) commitment to enhance its voluntary public disclosure of events related to the Chalk River Laboratories (CRL). The subject of this public disclosure is the unrecoverable loss of approximately 11 kg or 10 litres of heavy water. During routine work activities on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 20, a spill of approximately 250 kg of heavy water from the Fuel Rod Flask occurred at the storage block area within the NRU facility.  The Fuel Rod Flask is used in the fuelling and de-fuelling of the reactor and the movement of other reactor components.  The water-filled storage block is used for temporary storage and cooling of fuel rods exiting the NRU reactor. AECL’s response to the spill was immediate and according to established protocols. Mitigation measures were effective in ensuring worker safety, preventing heavy water loss and recovering heavy water. During the response, the conservative decision was made to reduce staffing levels within the facility to a minimum complement. Normal staffing for the facility resumed that evening. While most of the heavy water has been recovered, a loss of approximately 11 kg has been measured through monitoring. The heavy water loss resulted from evaporation through the facility’s ventilation system. This heavy water contains trace amounts of the radioactive isotope, tritium, for which the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has established weekly regulatory release limits. The airborne release of tritium as a result of this incident was well below the regulatory limit, measured at 0.2% of the limit. This loss of heavy water has no safety consequences. AECL has identified that the source of the spill was the connection point between the storage block and the Fuel Rod Flask. Corrective actions are underway and the facility is expected to resume normal operations in the near future. This incident has been reported to the CNSC. There was no impact on AECL's ability to safely monitor or operate the reactor. At no time did this event result in safety consequences to workers, the public or the environment.”

Thursday, 22 August 2013

CNSC: Setting the record straight on gross exaggeration of the Shipment of HEU

CNSC: Setting the record straight on gross exaggeration of the Shipment of HEU: "There have been a number of articles recently that have propagated misinformation on risks associated with transporting nuclear materials. I am compelled to set the record straight on what I feel is a gross exaggeration.
The concerns and fears that communities have in regards to transporting hazardous materials are valid; however transporting nuclear substances must be done safely or it would not be licensed by the CNSC. Shipments of repatriated Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) have been underway since 2010, and the CNSC has ensured that they are carried out safely, protecting the security of Canadians and the environment.
Transport of liquid radioactive material is nothing new to the CNSC, our regulations and record speak for themselves. Liquid nuclear substances such as medical isotopes are safely transported daily in certified packages in Canada and around the world. In fact, according to the World Nuclear Transport Institute in London England, approximately 20 million shipments of radioactive substances take place around the world each year.
On occasion, these packages have been involved in transportation accidents; there has never been a significant spill as a result. This is because the packages we licence are unique, and designed with worse case scenarios in mind to make sure they will always maintain their containment. The containers used for the transportation of nuclear substances are in no way comparable to those used for other dangerous goods.
The containers for liquid HEU must comply with the CNSC Packaging and Transport of Nuclear Substances Regulations. To be certified, the containers undergo stringent testing, which simulate both normal and hypothetical accident conditions of transport. This includes a nine metre free-drop test, puncture testing and an 800°C thermal test, all without loss of containment. Information is available on our Web site, including dramatic and informative videos of the testing of containers certified for nuclear materials, at"

Nuclear, not wind, the way to go

Nuclear, not wind, the way to go: "Ten years ago, as the province emerged, blinking, from a dark tunnel of a massive blackout that left 50 million people without power, we asked why?
And we wanted to know what we could do to avoid having it happen again. We looked at what worked -- and what didn't.
One of the key ...elements to this province's survival was the Bruce plant on Lake Huron.
It -- and the Beck hydro-powered plant at Niagara Falls -- were the power sources that survived the power outage and got back up and running quickly.
Bruce Power CEO Duncan Hawthorne spoke to me Tuesday, recalling the dark days of August 2003.
"One of the good features of the CANDU is that when the turbine comes off-line and you are disconnected from the rest of the world, the operators have the ability to hold the reactors at power," he said.
While unexpected multi-unit failures such as the blackout are rare, Bruce workers had trained for a similar event before the turn of the millennium, when there'd been dire predictions of a so-called Y2K meltdown.
While that didn't happen, it left Bruce well prepared for the blackout of 2003.
They were able to keep their reactors "at power" and waited for instructions from the electricity market operator looking for generation to re-establish the grid.
"We returned our units to power very slowly so the market operator could match available supply," Hawthorne recalled. "We resynchronized within 18 minutes and then started loading up the units to the instructions of the market operator."
Coal-fired plants that have been shut down were also flexible, and helped restore power.
Hawthorne says if the Darlington nuclear plant had come back as quickly as Bruce did, it wouldn't have taken as long as it did to restore power province-wide.
"If Darlington had been able to do with their units what Bruce did, which they are designed to do, then that would have made a big difference to our ability to come back from that event," he said.
While the government would have you believe they're replacing coal with wind, the numbers just don't add up.
"Mathematically, we would say nuclear up, coal down," Hawthorne told me."

Financial post: Nordion Reaches Settlement with AECL to Resolve MAPLE Lawsuits and Arbitration Costs

Financial post: Nordion Reaches Settlement with AECL to Resolve MAPLE Lawsuits and Arbitration Costs:

" Nordion Inc. (TSX:NDN) (NYSE:NDZ) announced today that Nordion and Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (“AECL”) have entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement to resolve the outstanding claims between both parties related to the MAPLE facilities. Nordion has also announced that, effective immediately,the parties have entered into an amended and restated isotope supply agreement and a waste management services agreement.

“This resolution provides greater clarity for Nordion and removes the uncertainty and liability around these matters,” said Steve West, Chief Executive Officer, Nordion Inc. “Nordion is now better positioned to focus on the needs and priorities of our business, including our important relationship with AECL, with a continued view to enhancing shareholder value and creating new opportunities for the company and our customers.”

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Nordion will receive CAD$15 million in cash from AECL, and AECL has released its claim against Nordion of approximately CAD$47 million for arbitration costs. Nordion has correspondingly withdrawn its MAPLE-related lawsuit against AECL in relation to the Isotope Production Facilities Agreement (“IPFA”) and the parties have released each other from claims relating to the IPFA and related litigation. The release of claims includes Nordion’s claim for damages against AECL under the IPFA of approximately CAD$244 million and AECL’s IPFA counterclaim for damages against Nordion of CAD$80 million.

The amended and restated isotope supply agreement is a non-exclusive agreement for medical isotope supply by AECL to Nordion, which has a term ending October 31, 2016. The supply agreement may also be terminated upon, among other things, Nordion establishing a satisfactory alternative supply of isotopes, the permanent shutdown of AECL's isotope production facilities, Nordion's failure to meet a minimum purchase quantity and any force majeure that continues for a period of more than two years. The primary cost of supply of medical isotopes will continue to be determined based on a revenue share methodology. Starting in 2014, the percentage of revenue share that AECL receives each year will increase throughout the term of the supply agreement contributing to a mid single-digit decrease in Nordion’s Medical Isotopes gross margin percentage over the course of the contract. In addition, Nordion has entered into an agreement to continue waste disposal services from AECL until October 31, 2026."

Monday, 19 August 2013

Atomic kitchen: French research center stores plutonium in pressure cookers

Atomic kitchen: French research center stores plutonium in pressure cookers: "A French nuclear research center has been using ordinary pressure cookers to store and transport plutonium and other “sensitive materials” for 50 years, it has been revealed. The news leaked as the center posted a public tender for 4,000 pressure cookers.
“We are seeking 4,000 stainless steel pressure cookers with a volume of approximately 17 liters,” the tender read, in an announcement more akin to a restaurant chain looking to upgrade its casseroles than a nuclear facility.
The center insists that pressure cookers have been safely holding atomic material for the last five decades, pointing to their secure fastenings that ensure contents don’t escape – even if dropped from a considerable height.
Conveniently, pressure cookers are also cheaper than specialized containers.
“The pressure cooker… provides the best value for money,”Bugaut François, the head of the research center in Valduc, told ‘France Info’ radio. “This is perfectly normal, we’ve done this for decades.”
And the practice is even more widespread, it seems.
A representative of French household goods manufacturer SEB claims to have sold thousands of pressure cookers to the country’s nuclear industry."

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Nuclear Power in Canada: Perception and Promise

A great read: Nuclear Power in Canada: Perception and Promise: "The Allies’ main concern at the time was racing Hitler to the Bomb, but the science – only uncovered in 1939 – promised so much more: unprecedented medicines and disease-fighting techniques, stronger and cheaper materials, seemingly boundless energy. Nuclear fission was fast becoming a revolutionary discovery of humankind, and by war’s end, Canada had the jump on the rest of the world in exploring its non-military potential.
 This happened at Chalk River Laboratories, about two hours west of Ottawa, in the middle of what many Canadians would have considered “nowhere”. Here the National Research Council built (and later turned over to a new crown corporation, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) the world’s best-equipped nuclear laboratory in its day, sparking a journey of discovery that led to cancer therapy, nuclear medicine, a long list of scientific firsts, and a made-in-Canada nuclear power reactor that today leads the industry for fuel efficiency and safety.
 The most remarkable thing about this Canadian achievement is perhaps that hardly anyone in Canada knows about it. In its day it made a splash, but for a long list of reasons this field of endeavour has slipped into a form of faux-obscurity: anonymously underpinning a large segment of Canadian industry, science and medicine, while gaining the limelight only when there’s bad news to tell.
 This is not to whine, since the nuclear community in Canada has done quite well for itself: the CANDU reactor, one of two fundamental reactor concepts in commercial operation around the world, powers half of Ontario with technological distinctiveness that can only be compared to this country’s aerospace triumphs: it is the Avro Arrow that flew.
As an economic engine this invisible industry keeps about 70,000 Canadians employed and pumps $7 billion per year into the GDP – long eclipsing its historical investment from Canadian taxpayers. As a source of medical innovation, Canadian nuclear technology has revolutionized clinical diagnosis, and armed doctors with one of the most formidable weapons against cancer." ...."From wartime expedient to sustainable innovator, Canada’s nuclear venture has brought dividends in world-leading science, revolutionary medicine, and diverse energy options. Canadians are privileged to face multiple choices in mapping our economic future, and energy is at the heart of this process. It is also our ethical responsibility to ensure that developing nations have as much choice as possible, for as long as possible. Critical thinking today will ensure that at least as many options are open to our grandchildren, from whom we borrow our world. "