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Insight Fall 2012

Insight Fall 2012

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Published by forumonenergy
As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission weighs its decision on requiring filtered vents on some U.S. reactors, Forum on Energy would like to direct its readers to the Fall 2012 edition of Nuclear Energy Insight, the Nuclear Energy Institute's (NEI) quarterly newsletter. Importantly, this edition addresses the goals of venting systems in light of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and the options available.
As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission weighs its decision on requiring filtered vents on some U.S. reactors, Forum on Energy would like to direct its readers to the Fall 2012 edition of Nuclear Energy Insight, the Nuclear Energy Institute's (NEI) quarterly newsletter. Importantly, this edition addresses the goals of venting systems in light of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and the options available.

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Published by: forumonenergy on Mar 18, 2013
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In recent months, experts from the nuclear industry and the NRC have turned their attention to two lessobvious aspects of plant operations: vents and filters. The importance of venting became clear duringthe early days of the Fukushima Daiichi accidentlast year. If containment vents at the Japanesefacility had been opened in a timely manner, the worst consequences of the accident might havebeen avoided.“The major problem at Fukushima was gettingthe containment vents open,” said Doug True, presi-dent of ERIN Engineering and Research. “Significantdelays in the decision to open the vents, combined with the Japanese decision-making process anddifficulties in opening the vent valves, delayedthe venting action, which in turn led to hydrogenexplosions.”Containment vents can be opened to reducethe pressure and temperature building up insidecontainment during a reactor accident and allowhydrogen generated during the accident toharmlessly escape.“The purpose of venting in an accident conditionis to protect the integrity of the containment struc-ture,” True said. “A vent would only be opened andclosed during an accident when it is necessary topreserve the containment.”At Fukushima, units 1 and 3 containmentsreleased hydrogen not through the vent butdirectly into the secondary containment whereit reached an explosive concentration.Containment vents are pipes that lead from thereactor containment to the outside environment,although not all containments have vents.“A vent generally refers to a pipe connected tothe primary containment of a nuclear power plantand leading to the plant’s [exhaust] stack,” said True. “The vent is designed to allow gases insidethe containment to be removed.”In contrast to Japan, in the U.S. the decision to vent containment is dictated by emergency operat-ing procedures and wouldgenerally be made by theon-site emergency director.“In general, plant proce-dures call for the use of the vent at a point when thepressure in containment is ator above the design pressureof the containment,” True said.
Vents are just part of the story.Venting coupled with anappro-priate filtering strategy cangreatly reduce the amountof radioactivity that could bereleased in the eventof an accident.“Filtering strategies like sprays and immersion cansignificantly reduce radioactive releases,” True said.“For example, water sprays inside containment com-bined with control of the containment ventcan reduce the release by a factor of 1,000.”Filtering strategies can accomplish this goalbecause water retains radioactive particles,preventing the particles from being released intothe environment. There are three common filtering strategies
 T H E N U C L E A R E N E R G Y I N S T I T U T E ’ S Q U A R T E R L Y N E W S L E T T E R
2 0 1 2
 Vents and Filtering Strategies Come to Forefront in Fukushima Response
on page 2
1Fuel Rods2Reactor Vessel3Steel Containment Vessel4DrywallConcrete Shell5Secondary ConcreteContainment Wall6Suppression Pool7Reactor BuildingSteel-Reinforced Concrete
Schematic of Boiling Water ReactorContainment Structures
Support for nuclear energy among Americanshas stabilized at about 65 percent, a newsurvey has found, and 77 percent believe thatnuclear energy will be an important sourceof energy to help the country meet futureelectricity needs.Sixty percent of the respondents said they believe that the United States “should definite-ly build more nuclear plants in the future,” and69 percent would accept a new reactor built
Nuclear Energy Support Remains Steady
on page 2
Strongly favorSomewhat favorSomewhat opposeStrongly opposeDon’t know
Favor the Use of Nuclear Energyfor Electricity
A flood in Iowa
did not affect thenuclear facility, which insteadprovided the key to the rescue effort
Robert Willard
talks about INPOand its mission in evaluating nuclearplants
The Navy teams up
 with NEI topromote careers in nuclear energyfor yeomen.
In This Issue
Editor Editorial Specialist
Mark Flanagan Andrea Korte
Graphic Designer
Rafy Levy 
Illustrator Photographer
Calvin Haden Anna Gomez
Contributing Editors
Lynne ProdoehlChristopher Charles Thaddeus Swanek 
Nuclear Energy Insight is publishedquarterly by the Nuclear Energy Institutefor policymakers and others interestedin nuclear issues.NEI is the policy organization of the nuclearenergy industry.© 2012Nuclear Energy Insight and Web Extracontent are available on NEI’s websiteat www.nei.org. For more information,call 202.739.8000.
On Safety First
From comparing lessons learned withemergency response teams at other nuclearenergy facilities to updating the ArizonaDivision of Emergency Management on newprotective actions, Palo Verde’s director ofemergency preparedness and security,Monica Ray, is constantly facilitatingcommunication between groups insideand outside of the industry to ensure thatthe facility and the community are preparedfor any potential emergency.Read more at
around which a facility can design a solution:an external water tank (also known as a “wet filter”), water immersion and water sprays.“There are a variety of [wet filter] designs, but themost prevalent design is a tank of water such that the airfrom the vent would be bubbled up through the water,”said Maria Korsnick, chief nuclear officer and chief operat-ing officer, Constellation Energy Nuclear Group. “As the water bubbles up it creates a scrubbing action whichcontains the radioactive materials in the water, significant-ly removing radioactivity from the air.”Wet filters are used in Europe, but not the UnitedStates. In an external wet filter, the water tank is placedoutside of containment and the scrubbing action occursthere.Filtering with water immersion and water sprays usesthe same basic principle—water retains the radioactiveparticles, greatly reducing the amount of radioactiverelease. The key difference is that both immersion andsprays keep radioactive particles inside the containmentchamber, with water falling from the top of the chamberin the case of sprays and water coming up from below inthe case of immersion.Containment vents at U.S. nuclear power plants do nothave wet filters, but the industry and the NRC are investi-gating which filtering strategy might be most appropriate.“Recent industry work has pointed toward the useof water sprays in containment, combined with strategiesto control the opening and closing of the vent, as highly effective,” True said. “Such strategies retain the radioactivi-ty inside containment, as designed, rather than collectingthem in a tank somewhere else.”Importantly, a filtering strategy would not occur inisolation. The decision to vent, and the use of sprays orimmersion, would only occur in the context of emer-gency operating procedures. Furthermore, US plants areimplementing the FLEX strategy that provides the capabil-ity to respond to an extended loss of power by relying onbackup emergency equipment—generators, battery packs,pumps, air compressors and battery chargers.“In addition to all the systems we already have in con-tainment that could do flooding and spraying, we willalso have FLEX equipment that will be able to providethe same service,” said Korsnick. “This isn’t a question of a containment filter or no filter. It’s a question around fil-tering strategy and what’s the best, most efficient way toachieve the goals of a filtering strategy.”
from page 1
at the nuclear energy site nearest to them. Ingeneral, support for nuclear energy is stronger amongthose who live near a site.Bisconti Research/GfK Roper conducted the pollof 1,000 U.S. adults by telephone in September. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minusthree percentage points.Americans in general think nuclear energy facilitiesare operating safely: 69 percent gave the facilities ahigh safety mark, with only 17 percent ratingthem low. That continues a gradual shift fromthree decades ago when the majority gave nuclearpower plants low scores.Respondents give strong support to U.S. leader-ship in global nuclear energy trade. Nearly three-quarters agree that it is important for the UnitedStates to continue to play a leading role in worldmarkets, so that America can influence nuclearsafety and boost the economy.
from page 1
 There are three common filtering strategies. Recent industry work has pointed toward the use of watersprays in the containment chamber (left) as highly effective.
Filtering With Cooling Water SpraysFiltering With Cooling Water ImmersionFiltering ThroughExternal Water Tanks
 Twenty Pennsylvania school teachers spenta week on the other side of the desk lastsummer—learning about nuclear energy,other nuclear technologies and operationsat the Susquehanna nuclear energy facility.PPL hosts the Nuclear Energy Seminarfor Teachers, or NEST, at its SusquehannaEnergy Information Center. The program isa five-day whirlwind that includes planttours, lectures, discussions and classroomexercises, giving K-12 teachers the tools totake information about nuclear energy back to their schools.“We provide them with curricula thatthey can take back to the classroom andimplement and share with the otherteachers in the school district,” said AlanaRoberts, PPL’s community affairs specialistand program coordinator.Last summer, PPL celebrated the 30thanniversary of NEST, which has educatedmore than 1,200 teachers. The program was initiated and developed by JoeScopelliti, who now serves as PPL’sSusquehanna community relations man-ager. He joined PPL after teaching chem-istry at a local high school and, knowinghow little information educators had aboutnuclear energy, saw a gap ready to befilled. That demand has not abated. Robertssaid that the program is filled, with a wait-ing list. NEST draws science teachers froma number of disciplines, including chem-istry, physics and environmental science.Participants come into the program with varying levels of nuclear knowledge.Some teachers may be plant neighbors who are well-aware of Susquehanna’scontribution to the state’s electricity profile, while other, more far-flung participantsmay not know that nuclear energy gener-ates 33 percent of Pennsylvania’s electrici-ty and almost all of its emissions-freepower.PPL regularly adds new topics to thecurriculum, keeping the information fresh. The company allows participants to retakethe course every five years to learn what’snew in the industry and at Susquehannastation.Roberts said there is growing interestin a comparison of nuclear to other formsof electrical generation, so PPL incorporat-ed a unit on renewable energy andorganized a trip to a local wind farm.Recent events in the nuclear industry also shape the program’s focus.“We’re just beginning to speak about what changes are going to come aboutfrom the Fukushima incident and howthat’s going to translate into changes atU.S. reactors and in particular aboutSusquehanna,” Roberts said.She said that one of this year’s unex-pected highlights was a presentation onnuclear job opportunities.“We had a terrific back-and-forth two-hour session on what job opportunitiesare available, what are up-and-coming job opportunities,” she said, “not onlat PPL, but in the nuclear industry.” Thenuclear industry has filled 41,100 jobssince 2005.PPL is seeing the effects of new facesin the industry, and NEST has begun toreflect the generational change takingplace throughout the industry. Recent hireshelp to shape the future of the program inthe wake of several retirements. This year,former students of Bloomsburg University Professor David Simpson, NEST’s leadinstructor, are working at PPL and servingas instructors themselves.
PPL Program Teaches Teachers About Nuclear Energy
   P   h   o   t   o   s   c   o   u   r   t   e   s   y   P   P   l
FALL 2012
NEST participants donthe protective gear worn by nuclear energy professionals workingin close proximity toradioactive materials.Buckling down for education: Teachersspend time in the classroom, learningfrom PPL employees about all formsof energy and electricity.
“We provide them withcurricula that they cantake back to the class- room and implement and share with the other teachers in the school district.” 
—Alana RobertsPPL Site Specialist
On what NEST offers participants

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