Contacts & companies

1 January 1998

US & Middle East firsts for BNFL Instruments

BNFL Instruments recently registered two firsts:

• Completion of its first spent fuel monitoring contract for a power utility in the US. The company’s Spent Fuel Monitor (SFM) provided the utility with the data needed to determine independently the burn up of spent fuel, highlighting the potential for significant cost savings. High integrity measurements provided by SFM accurately characterise the fuel and provide crucial support for the application of burn up credit in storage and transport.

BNFL Instruments has developed its spent fuel monitoring service to assist nuclear operators in achie-ving these cost savings through independent verification of reactor operations data. The service operates in full compliance with proposed methodologies for actinide only burn up credit and effective for any commercial uranium oxide fuels.

• Securing its first job in the Middle East, the installation and commissioning of radiometric measuring systems. The specialist monitoring instrumentation is destined for a customer-built radiometric training laboratory in Kuwait City.

The instruments will provide students with practical experience in the application of the latest techniques for accurate measurement and characterisation of radioactive materials. High and low resolution gamma spectroscopy systems, alpha spectroscopy and zinc sulphide detection systems are amongst the instruments provided.

Enrichment analysis software

Canberra Industries has been granted a nonexclusive licence to commercialise CZTU, a computer program developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which analyses uranium gamma rays from measurements made with Cd(Zn)Te (cadmium zinc telluride) radiation detectors.

The software determines uranium enrichment by calculating the U-235 percentage in a uranium sample using the 80-200 KeV region of a gamma spectrum taken with a medium resolution CZT spectrometer system. The CZTU software will be integrated within Canberra’s existing product line and will expand the capabilities of the InSpector Multi-Channel Analyzer (IMCA) to perform cadmium telluride analyses.

The IMCA is a portable gamma ray spectrometer designed to measure the enrichment of uranium using the enrichment meter method. It includes a sodium iodide (Nal) or a low-energy germanium (LEGe) detector, and special application software. It provides both confirmatory and verification measurements of uranium in various forms throughout the fuel cycle in a manner performed by the IAEA in Vienna and Euratom in Luxembourg.

Connecting Russia with Western Europe

A consortium formed by the power companies in five countries will begin to study the interconnection of the power networks in Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine and Moldavia with the UCPTE (the Western European interconnected power system). The study will include the preconditions for the synchronous interconnection of the network, the costs and the benefits. The consortium, led by by Electricité de France, also includes CEZ (Czech Republic), IVO Group (Finland), RWE (Germany) and Tractebel (Belgium).

Interim fuel storage casks

Transnuclear Inc has been selected by PECO Nuclear to supply interim fuel storage casks for the Peach Bottom station. The order includes the engineering, licensing and fabrication of Transnuclear’s TN-68 Advanced Storage Cask for BWR fuel. The TN-68, a second-generation metal storage cask which has been designed to store and later transport BWR fuel, was selected by PECO Nuclear in order to meet their need for dry storage at Peach Bottom in the Spring of 2000. PECO Nuclear has ordered nine TN-68 casks for delivery in the years 1999-2001. The casks will be fabricated in Pennsylvania.

Packaging technology

Transnuclear has acquired Packaging Technology Inc (PacTec), which specialises in the design, certification, testing and production of packaging for the transport of radioactive materials. The PacTec strength in design of lighter weight packaging complements Transnuclear’s expertise in heavier containers.

PacTec has been very successful serving a customer base that consists mainly of DOE prime contractors. The company will retain its name, and Larry Hansen and Dick Haelsig, who founded the company, will remain affiliated. Transnuclear is a leading supplier of dry fuel storage casks in the US.

Core-shroud repair

Framatome Technologies Inc (FTI), has received a contract from Niagara Mohawk Power Corp to prepare a contingency vertical-weld repair on the core shroud at Nine Mile Point 1 (below) in New York State. FTI’s workscope includes development of equipment, tooling, hardware and site services for this contingency repair. Through a teaming agreement with FTI, MPR Associates will supply the weld-repair hardware design.

The hardware – intended to be installed in the vessel-to-shroud annulus – consists of a clamp assembly that is attached to the core shroud to prevent a cracked core-shroud vertical weld from opening further.

The repair scope includes: hardware design; materials procurement; hardware fabrication; installation-tooling design, fabrication and qualification; and all site installation activities.

Simulator stakes

In November the French companies Framatome and Technicatome each took a 17% share in the capital of Corys TESS (Training & Engineering Support Systems) which was taken over by Tractebel Engineering of Belgium late last year. Corys TESS, based in Grenoble (France), designs and builds simulators for the energy sector (nuclear and conventional generating units, power grids) and the transport sector. It further specialises in provision of training, and the related studies and services.

Hot valves help nuclear safety

The highest temperature rated valves ever supplied by the UK’s Spirax Sarco are controlling a test rig used to study the effects of superheated steam on pipe insulation in nuclear plants. The rig uses 500°C superheated steam to simulate postulated leaks from pipelines supplying a plant’s steam turbines.

“Initial, exploratory, tests used compressed air, but superheated steam was needed for the final simulation. No suitable equipment existed, so we built our own,” explains Andy Telford, Project Engineer at Magnox Electric’s Breakheart Quarry Test Centre.

The tests, which are being carried out on behalf of Nuclear Electric, are being used to investigate methods of detecting steam leaks. “We considered that deterioration of the insulation adjacent to a leak site would be an important factor in the early detection,” notes Telford.

Eastern Europe’s decom market

Golder Associates (UK) and SGS Qualitest SA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combine their efforts to jointly offer their services to the Eastern European nuclear decommissioning market, particularly with respect to environmental remediation of contaminated sites funded by the European Union.

Golder provides consultancy services worldwide, primarily in the geotechnical, groundwater and applied science fields. In the nuclear sector, this includes services for the management of radioactive materials, including the storage and disposal of low, intermediate and high level wastes, as well as spent fuel. Its activities have been extended to include decommissioning and remediation disciplines.

The SGS Group, whose core activities are inspection, testing and monitoring, has affiliated companies in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly in Russia and Ukraine and other CIS countries. SGS Qualitest has been offering services to operators, nuclear agencies and government bodies for more than 20 years in the fields of inspection, radioprotection, NDT, safety assessment and training.

SG contracts for nes

NES Inc has recently been awarded four contracts in the US for steam generator services and servicing equipment:

• Wolf Creek: a contract for four additional SG nozzle dams and a multi-outage contract for dam installation and removal services.

• South Texas 1&2: a multi-outage contract for nozzle dam installation and removal services.

• Comanche Peak: a contract for nozzle dam installation and removal services.

• Oconee: a contract for three SG primary manway cover jacks which will allow Duke personnel to install the covers faster and more safely.

GSE power systems acquires RNI

GSE Power Systems has acquired RNI Technologies (formally Ryan Nuclear), a leading company in the modifications and services sector of the power plant simulation market. In connection with this, litigation pending between the parties over the past year has been settled. GSE is now further strengthened in its leading position as a supplier of nuclear power plant simulators and associated services, with over 145 full-scope nuclear and fossil plant simulators in over 20 countries.

GSE Power Systems group has also announced winning simulation systems and services contracts totalling over $11 million. Contracts from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, valued at $8.2 million, were awarded to GSE Power Systems to build and upgrade simulators in Ukraine and Russia. This work is carried out under the Department of Energy’s International Nuclear Safety Program.

GSE Power Systems AB, a Swedish unit, also received a 10-year contract, valued at about $3 million, for providing services for the Krümmel nuclear plant simulator in Germany.

Decommissioning services by GTS Duratek

GTS Duratek has announced two contracts covering decommissioning:

• A contract worth about $2 million to provide decommissioning services for the Maine Yankee nuclear plant. GTS Duratek said it will characterise radioactive waste as part of the total decommissioning of the plant; the job will take about four to six months.

• A $3 million contract to provide a range of specialised radiological engineering, site radiological characterisation and radwaste management services for the Rancho Seco station.

Research fuel criticality

The UK Atomic Energy Authority is upgrading its criticality incident detection and alarm systems at its Dounreay site in northern Scotland (pictured below) with the installation of a new CIDAS MkX system from BNFL Instruments. CIDAS (Criticality Incident Detection and Alarm System) will be installed to ensure optimal operational safety during the production of research reactor fuel in two of the buildings. This proven criticality system was pioneered by BNFL in the early 1960s. To date more than 50 CIDAS systems have been installed at nuclear sites.

Browns Ferry 3 fuel cycle study

PECO Nuclear has won a contract from the Tennessee Valley Authority to perform an independent nuclear fuel cycle study for Browns Ferry 3 (1098 MWe BWR) in Alabama. PECO will conduct nuclear fuel analyses to support an uprating of Browns Ferry 3’s power output and to increase the length of the fuel cycle from 18 months to 24 months. The work includes redesigning the nuclear fuel bundle and reactor core. PECO Nuclear already is performing similar work for Nine Mile Point 1 (610 MWe BWR) and Nine Mile Point 2 (1080 MWe BWR). The studies are helping to determine operating strategies, ways to minimise fuel costs and future fuel purchases.

Post LOCA instrument air compressor set

Sterling Fluid Systems has been awarded the contract to design and supply three compressor sets for Korea Electric Power.

The first of its kind, the safety related Post LOCA Instrument Air (PLIA) compressor set supplied by Sterling Fluid Systems for CANDU-6 type nuclear power stations, is used to supply air to instruments and controls in the reactor building following a loss of coolant to the nuclear reactor. Each unit consists of two Sterling SIHI liquid ring compressors with a totally recirculated service liquid arrangement.

The first has now been commissioned and the remaining two will be ready for use by mid-1998. The contract was awarded by Canatom Inc of Montreal.

‘Pony’ motors refurbished

American Ecology Corp has received a $200 000 contract from Lockheed Martin Energy Research to rewind and refurbish four electrically operated pony motors that provide heat removal capability for a Department of Energy research reactor in Oak Ridge following shutdowns and in abnormal situations. Lockheed Martin manages the reactor, which produces medical and other radioactive isotopes. It has been off-line since June because of concerns about the condition of the “pony” motors, which are battery powered.

Russian uranium field development

Malyshev Ore Company in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region, which mines uranium and rare-earth metals, has received about $30 million from MINATOM to bring the Dalmatovskoye uranium field on stream. The money was released under the federal “Russian Uranium” programme. Malyshev has completed preparations to commission the first stage of the Dalmatovskoye development using in situ leaching technology. The field is expected to produce 10% of Russian needs in 1998. The Malyshev company, in which the government holds a 51% stake, continues to suffer financial constraints and bankruptcy proceedings were being considered.

Pilgrim coupling

Pilgrim International Ltd has won a contract for its hydraulic Radial Fit Coupling Bolts from GEC Alsthom for the British Energy’s Sizewell B nuclear power station. The installation of the bolts will ensure that no time will be lost at refuelling shutdowns or outages due to coupling bolt problems. This will help Sizewell and all other similarly equipped stations maximise outage efficiency each time rotor couplings are split. A total of 64 Pilgrim bolts were to be installed in the four main couplings during the 1997 refuelling outage.

Group to clean up in Russia

A group of four European companies – Kvaerner Maritime (Norway), SKB (Sweden), BNFL Engineering Ltd (UK) and SGN (France) – having formed an “industrial group” to address environmental challenges in Russia and the Nordic Region, have begun their first project. To deal with the spent fuel from decommissioned Russian nuclear navy vessels, the group will carry out a joint study with the Russian engineering company, VNIPIET, to design and eventually construct a safe interim storage facility at Mayak. The project is jointly funded by contributions from the governments of Norway and Sweden and the European Commission.

Waste water analyser

A new water analyser which can give simultaneous readings of pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, conductivity and redox potential has helped British Nuclear Fuels greatly improve the speed and efficiency of water sampling at its low-level waste disposal site at Drigg near Sellafield. The FC 4000, from Geotechnical Instruments, has been designed to operate in conjunction with micro-purge techniques to reduce the need for costly and time-consuming purging of wells prior to samples being obtained. “Until recently, we’ve had to employ four different monitors to gain our information,” said BNFL’s Chris Lennon. He added: “We can optimise purge times before sampling and can also leave the analyser unattended during purging, thus saving even more time.”

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