Requirement specifications for a new nuclear plant provide the basis for selecting the appropriate reactor and other machinery for the successful implementation of the project. There are a total of 14 nuclear power stations in operation in the UK and there are 6 which have gone under decommissioning in the past 15 years. Nuclear power plants supply at present 20% of UK’s total energy requirements.
A further 8 nuclear power plants will be constructed in the UK in the next 10 years. This report will detail the specific requirements and choice of a nuclear power plant to be built at a selected site in UK. This report will explore legislative requirements, project management, operational safety and decommissioning and other features in plant selection. Legislation National and international laws, treaties and conventions govern the requirements for nuclear power plants in any country.
These laws and treaties are developed to address some of the following issues; radiology safety, safe construction, commissioning and operation, safeguards, handling nuclear material and protecting the environment, handling of nuclear emergencies and accidents and nuclear liability and coverage. The appropriateness of some of the requirement specification for a new nuclear plant, demands that there should be; a) Sufficient cooling water, b) Emergency evacuation procedures, c) Transport infrastructure is suitable i. e. access through the sea preferred than land. ) Storage of fissile material to be discrete, e) Security measures are put in place to exclude public from trespassing.
It is essential to appoint a legal team that will work hand in hand with relevant government bodies eg the NPIA, and participate in all deliberations and establish a comprehensive reference portfolio to reflect International safety requirements for the project. Site Selection. Some of the guidelines on choosing a site are as follows, provided by the IAEA BULLETIN, (1996): * Integration into the electric grid system Geology, tectonic studies. Hydrology (including ground water, floods and tsunamis) Cooling water availability, intake and discharge.? * Demography and land use * Meteorology and atmospheric dispersion (including wind patterns, tornados and hurricanes) * Nuclear safety and radiation protection aspects * Access and emergency response roads. * Air, land and sea transportation patterns, Legal aspects. * Public consultation. Governmental agencies contribute to the Environmental Assessment (EA).
The EA must demonstrate that all risks to the environment and to the public are mitigated to as low as reasonably achievable. This is an important criterion that satisfies the requirements of the national and international environmental frameworks and regulations. The site that I recommend for the construction of a new nuclear power plant is in Cumbria at Sellafield. Cumbria has supported nuclear power generation since Sellafield has already acquired an area of 262 hectares covered by the nuclear site licence.
Nuclear power programmes have been supported by organisations including United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Processing of fuels removed from nuclear power stations; Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication; and storage of nuclear materials and radioactive wastes was done at Sellafield (NDA, 2009) Generation ceased in 2003 (NDA, 2009). On the other hand political differences still emerge and Ireland has repeatedly called the closure of Sellafield nuclear power station for a long time (The Guardian, 2009).
Nathan Argent, the head of Greenpeace’s energy solutions unit, also hit out at the plans. “Sellafield doesn’t even have the right grid connections, so there’s no way it could deliver electricity” (The guardian, 2009). He went on to say that it would cost a fortune in subsidies to put the conditions in place (The Guardian). It is estimated that 9000 jobs would be created during the construction phase and another 10000 will be employed on a longer term basis when the plant is fully operational. Also, the economy and surrounding has been estimated to benefit ? 2 billion (The Guardian, 2009). A history created since 1956 by this will see a greater benefit in reduction of costs in setting up the infrastructure outlined by the IAEA Bulletin, 1996, in first paragraph of this section. The less tasking it is to preplan the infrastructure, the more appealing it becomes to outweigh the negatives, and the better the project is inclined to be awarded its site permit by the NRB (IAEA, 1996). The next stage of acquiring the reactor of our design will call for yet another advanced step into the project. Project Management
Financing a nuclear power project can be fully supported by the government, or solely private commercial companies. Nuclear power construction requires technical expertise in construction and operation of the plant and this calls for the establishment of a management system equipped with advanced software and hardware tools in the analysis and design and installation of components and structures. Developing human resources in all areas of the plant infrastructure is of importance. (IAEA, 1996). The selected project team will be responsible to ensure that the project is managed to achieve contract schedule and cost.
It is responsible for putting the plant into operation in accordance with safety and licensing principles. It ensures an overwhelming majority of employees are locals and have acquired basic skills to carry out tasks. It is imperative that the production and maintenance personnel have adequate training and have received an NRB operators’ licence. Further responsibilities for the project managers would be to carry out a public consultation and environment assessment process. Local guidelines and international guidelines could be used to carry out this process.
Cross border public consultation are also required. These involve consideration of consultation with neighbouring countries to fulfil the international requirements (IAEA, 2006). Non-governmental organizations pose a potential challenge and delays to the project and this requires a dedicated body to address the public through an established basis and terms of reference. (IAEA, 2006). Revival of the nuclear era will incite stiff public opposition and with a country like Ireland having already expressed their discontent, media attention can be easily drawn , which is against the wishes of interested parties.
The utmost task of the project team is to manage bid invitation specifications, bid evaluation and selection. Engagement of an international consultant is highly recommended. Adherence to the requirement of the NRB in terms of the preliminary safety analysis report (PSAR) will enable an order for all nuclear equipment to begin (IAEA, 2006). Reactor Design In design selection of a nuclear reactor, three major outstanding issues have been considered extensively to determine the final selection of type of reactor from a list on the market. These are in order of importance, safety, efficiency and reliability.
The FBR is recommended to be purchased and installed at Sellafield. The World Nuclear Association (2010) report indicated that: * The FBR has the ability to burn actinides. The FBR has a strong negative temperature coefficient (the reaction slows as the temperature rises unduly. (This is a major fail safe inherent feature). * The FBR does not use a moderator. An FNR ‘breeds’ fuel hence FNRs can utilise uranium about 60 times more efficiently than a normal reactor. The FBR has a high power density requiring efficient heat transfer. An FBR can use reprocessed fuel. Some 390 reactor – years have been realised through their operation. In the 1980s the FBR were put out of competition due to the emergence of other conventional reactors. An earlier perception about the scarcity of uranium caused lack of approval on FBR that time. One effect of the 1980s halt to FNR development is that conventional reactors began using (MOX) fuel which was solely meant for FBR’s (WNA, 2010). Conventional reactors continue to generate used fuel worldwide and that is the opportunity to be utilised by the FBR due to its capability to consume used fuel and unirradiated plutonium.
The safety features that are to be put in place to run and manage the FBR have to comply and satisfy the NRB requirements. Operational Safety The IAEA’s Nuclear Safety Standards (NUSS) was set up in 1974 and the framework lays down advisory standards useful to national authorities responsible for regulating nuclear safety. In this respect the IAEA, in an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing safety regulations realised the need for a review of the entire dossier as it was concluded that there was no coherence between the document and the participants.
Safety reports were churned out without much relevance to events in the plants. The revised document, set up in 1990 laid out advisory standards useful to national authorities responsible for regulating the safety of nuclear plants. The revised code simplified the standards by dividing responsibilities into three functional categories: management, performance and assessment. The Global Safety Standards, also take into account ISO 9000 standards for quality management, the mechanisms for which are clearly defined in the revised standards for quality assurance at nuclear plants ( NUSS 1990).
The entire quality assurance report encompasses, quality systems respective to suppliers, quality certification, personal attitudes and grading of quality assurance (NUSS, 1990). Accessing and incorporating the contents of the document to the standard operating procedures at Sellafield should form a solid and documented approach to Sellafield nuclear plant operational safeguards. Emergency response preparedness plan The NRB, the national and local authorities should approve an emergency response preparedness plan which is prepared prior to start of operations.
The role of the NRB, plant operations team, the government and local authorities should be clearly defined. The plan should also comply with the relevant international conventions. Emergency response plans should be considered as part of the basic infrastructure and require multiple paths of access to and evacuation from the plant and its immediate area (IAEA). Initiating drills to such a robust action plan might ask for a total freeze of the town’s operations. The reality is that they are not practicable. Making the public aware of the potential danger impacts psychologically on their fear factor.
Creating a balance under these circumstances is imperative. This process is expected to go on for as long as the plant is reaches its final years in operation, professional consultations with the public is essential. Decommissioning The FBR is expected to operate for 40 years and be decommissioned. The first action is to remove and dispose of the spent nuclear fuel and the option of DECON is recommended (RAYMOND, 1993). This option refers to dismantling the plant immediately, then decontaminating which is followed by destruction. All material is sent to a LLW disposal site. (RAYMOND, 1993).
Raymond (1993) described various techniques like washing with chemicals, brushing sand blasting and ultrasonic vibration. Components are recommended to be cut down to smaller sizes and the use of acetylene torches and plasma archs accepted. Workers are exposed to radiation so extra manpower and detection devices are required. Very large volumes of waste are generated and an effective waste management programme has to be put in place (RAYMOND, 1993). Discussion/conclusion By 2004, Belgium, France, Germany and UK had declared 190 te of unirradiated plutonium for MOX fuel reprocessing at Sellafield and La Hague. Haas and Hamilton 2004). Used fuel generated from most PWR’s in UK and other world nuclear power stations is stockpiling. Stockpiles of plutonium from uranium enrichment military programmes are a potential raw material for the FBR. The FBR, because of its capacity to use spent fuel, will create a vast economic cycle at the same time serving its purpose of generating electricity. The breeder has the ability to use nearly all its fuel rather than a percentage (RAYMOND1993). The breeder has a capability of generating its own fuel at a ratio of say 1:25 (RAYMOND, 1993).
This will safeguard the availability of uranium as a raw material for the future. Once the reactor is running, the most crucial factor to be monitored is the handling of excessive reactions and fuel meltdown. The FBR slows down its reaction in the event of low cooling water availability. This is the basis of fear of nuclear power plants. All the safety problems can be anticipated and preventive measures put into place. Sellafield is not new to the nuclear world. Sellafield has a pool of trained personnel living around whose experience could be used to handle the FBR. Sellafield is close to the sea.