corrosion, high cost nuclear, Idaho, INEEL, INL, Lucens Reactor, MASLWR, Multi-application Small Light Water Reactor, nuclear accidents, nuclear power, nuclear reactor, NuScale, passive, prefab nuclear, SL-1 reactor, small reactors, SMR, Taxpayer rip-off, underground reactors, US Dept. of Energy, US DOE, US NRC, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Greenpeace’s Justin McKeating made an excellent analysis of NuScale last year (see below our commentary).
However, he overlooked that the US DOE actually invented NuScale under the name of MASLWR. So, this is at least a second round of government funding. The US government dropped MASLWR and former DOE workers picked it up, probably after the patent expired, dubbing it NuScale. And, they are still feeding off the taxpayer pork barrel dole. Plus, it’s NuScale Not! The nuclear industry only knows how to recycle the same old stuff.
There doesn’t appear to be much, if anything, new about NuScale. The only known immediate nuclear deaths from a nuclear accident, in the US, were from a mini-SL-1 reactor that made nuclear fallout in rural Idaho.  In 1968, in Lucens Switzerland, there was a mini-underground nuclear reactor, which had a major accident. Although smaller than NuScale, 100 Rem (1 Sievert; 1000 mSv) per hour was measured in the reactor cavern, and it is ranked as a major nuclear accident. Radiation was measured in the nearby village; it continues to leak radiation from the cavern. From the beginning the Lucens Reactor was plagued by leaks in the underground cavern and corrosion issues due to its underground location.  NuScale too will suffer from additional corrosion and extra problems of hydrogen attack because it is part underground and stuck in water on all sides. Underground nuclear isn’t a magic fix, on the contrary. Furthermore, what happens if the underground cavern collapses upon the nuclear reactor(s)? That won’t be good!
NuScale is apparently not really passive either “Conduction through the vessel wall is by itself not a sufficient mechanism for heat removal in the present design. A circulation path is required to effectively remove the core decay heat. The sump makeup system is required.”  Furthermore, Italian researchers found that if if “SUMP valves are not operated and the ADS vent valves stuck open“, then there was a six hour “grace” period before CHF [Critical Heat Flux] “conditions are reached at top of the core. The dryout cannot be quenched. Primary system coolant released thorugh the HTC top valve outside the contaiment” . Six hour grace period to meltdown-nuclear accident. So, these are neither passive, nor perfectly safe. And, they are proposing putting them in large groups, which makes one wonder what’s the point. A quick look online shows that NuScale has just submitted a laundry list of patents (July 2015) which, looking at the list alone, sound less original, than trying to patent a chicken sandwich, as someone recently did.
“When it comes to nuclear power, small isn’t beautiful. Or safe or cheap.
Blogpost by Justin McKeating – June 19, 2014 at 11:55
Not beautiful, safe or cheap: a message to the United States, where the Obama administration has pledged to waste money financing the Small Modular Reactor (SMR).
SMRs are supposed to be small and prefab – constructed from parts made in a central location and slapped together onsite like a cheap prefab home. Those parts can then be shipped out and built by staff who don’t necessarily have the skills to build larger, more complex reactors.
The trouble is, this is merely old nuclear technology in new clothes. So why is the US Department of Energy (DoE) is giving $217 million dollars over five years to NuScale, a SMR manufacturer.
Let’s note, with a weary shake of the head, that this is yet another public subsidy for the failing economics of nuclear power, and take a look why this is a bad investment of taxpayer dollars by the Obama administration.
Dr. Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, has published a paper titled, The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power and the Development of a Low-Carbon Electricity Future: Why Small Modular Reactors Are Part of the Problem, Not the Solution.
In his paper, Dr. Cooper finds SMRs won’t be cheaper and, more worryingly, manufacturers and supporters of the technology want to short-circuit safety regulations to get them built.
With the Fukushima disaster in its fourth year and no real solution to the ongoing problems and massive contamination in the foreseeable future, maybe now is not the time to talk about reducing nuclear safety, particularly with experimental, untested technology.
Dr Cooper adds SMRs will be more expensive than traditional nuclear technologies and that up to $90 billion dollars will be needed to make SMRs commercially viable. That’s a huge sum that will drag financing away from renewable power projects that are vital in the fight against climate change.
We’ve been here before: the story of the nuclear industry wasting billions is an old one. Take a look at the experimental, untested European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) being built in Olkiluoto in Finland. Originally budgeted at 3 billion euros (around $4 billion), the cost has swelled obscenely until it’s now around 8.5 billion euros (around $11.5 billion). And the project still isn’t finished.
Meanwhile, research published by German think tank Agora Energiewende “found that new wind and solar PV could generate energy for an overall cost of up to 50 per cent less than new nuclear…” in Europe and “today’s feed-in tariffs for wind and PV in Germany are up to 50 per cent lower than those offered for new nuclear in the UK according to the Hinkley Point C agreement.”
Basically, subsidies for new and increasingly innovative renewable energy generation are half those of old, tired nuclear power which has tried and failed over the last 60 years to come up with a viable economic model.
Big financial players like Citigroup (hardly hippy greenies) agree when they say ‘Age of Renewables’ has begun and nuclear power has priced itself out of the market. “We predict that solar, wind, and biomass continue to gain market share from coal and nuclear into the future,” said its analysts in April.
…” http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/when-it-comes-to-nuclear-power-small-isnt-bea/blog/49679/ (Emphasis added).
NuScale in 2003 when it belonged to the US Gov and called “MULTI-APPLICATION, SMALL, LIGHT WATER REACTOR (MASLWR)” INEEL/EXT-04-01626
Checking Radiation after SL-1 Nuclear Accident Jan. 1961 in Idaho:
The Lucens Design certainly looks like NuScale
“Mandelmann, Erling Titel: Atomkraftwerk Lucens
Beschreibung: Datierung: 4.7.1964” http://doi.org/10.3932/ethz-a-000256955
NuScale 12 years ago when it was called MASLWR and still an official government project, 2003, INEEL/EXT-04-01626
While the comment deadline is over, if you live in the USA, there is still time to learn-use the tax long-form and figure out how to earn as little as you can, or give away your earnings in a tax deductible manner to worthy causes, so as to legally evade paying the salaries of the criminals at the US DOE, NRC, etc., and stop paying corporate subsidies to NuScale and others. Comment Deadline was 31 Aug. (Mon.) night, 11.59 pm, NY-DC (US Eastern). You can see if your comment or others were uploaded: “NuScale Power, LLC, Design-Specific Review Standard and Safety Review Matrix“Docket Folder Summary http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NRC-2015-0160 For other NRC comment periods this advice still holds: If you don’t like the questions answer a different question, as per the advice that an MIT Ph.D. gave their grad student, and MIT is big on nuclear, the head of the US DOE, Moniz, teaches there, so it should be ok. However, don’t try this with intelligent people or they may get mad at you. If you are dealing with intelligent people, use this idea at your own risk. You won’t be finding intelligent people at the NRC, unless it’s a blinkered “intelligence”.
 NuScale was a US government funded project which the US government dropped and somehow former DOE workers got the patent (probably expired) for it, and are still getting government funding! This is a major taxpayer rip-off. Construction only (ignoring waste and fuel fabrication) makes it more costly than solar or wind: “NuScale was founded based on research funded by the Department of Energy from 2000 to 2003. After funding was cut, scientists with the program obtained related patents in 2007 and started NuScale to commercialize the technology. In 2011, the company’s largest investor had its assets frozen due to an investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission. The company experienced financial hardship, until new funding was obtained from Fluor Corporation and later from the Department of Energy. NuScale is currently planning the first NuScale power plant in Idaho….
NuScale’s SMR designs are for 9′ by 65′ reactor vessels that use conventional light water cooling methods. Each module is intended to be kept in an underground pool and is expected to produce about 50 megawatts of electricity….” Each NuScale reactor vessel is expected to be 9 feet by 65 feet and weigh 650 tons. The modules would be pre-fabricated, delivered by rail-car, barge or special trucks and assembled on-site. The units are designed to produce 50 megawatts.[a] of electricity each and require refueling with standard 4.95 percent enriched Uranium 235 fuel every two years.… The company estimates a twelve-unit NuScale plant would cost $5,000 per kilowatt“. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NuScale_Power
 Just as the US government dropped the Pebble Bed, so too did they drop NuScale, then called MASLWR. The Germans picked up the rejected Pebble Bed Reactor and when their two Pebble Beds had nuclear accidents, Germany expected first Scotland, and now the US, to take the waste off of their hands.
 The SL 3 workers had to be buried in lead coffins, apparently their hands were cut off as radioactive waste, and there was danger in extracting their radioactive bodies.
 A. Meichle: Das ehemalige Versuchs-Atomkraftwerk Lucens, Rückblick und Ausblick, Sonderdruck SVA-Bulletins Nr. 13/14, 1989 INES 4-5, as cited in https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_von_Unfällen_in_kerntechnischen_Anlagen Also: “Reaktor-Unfall in der Schweiz”
Issue Physikalische Blätter Volume 25, Issue 10, pages 465–467, Oktober 1969
Tobias Wildi: Der Traum vom eigenen Reaktor. Die schweizerische Atomtechnologieentwicklung 1945–1969. Chronos, Zürich 2003, ISBN 978-3034005944.
G. Bart: Jubiläums-Jahresbericht Hotlabor – Abklärungen zum Zwischenfall im Kernkraftwerk Lucens vom 21.1.69. Paul Scherrer Institut, Juli 1989, S. 37-39, abgerufen am 14. März 2011 (deutsch) https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reaktor_Lucens
 “The sump makeup lines are required in conjunction with the ADS lines to provide core liquid inventory replacement. The sump makeup lines have check valves that prevent reverse flow from the vessel into the containment.
During break scenarios, a stable recirculation flow path will be established between the primary vessel and the containment. Steam produced by the core is vented from the top of the vessel either through the break or the ADS high containment vent line, and an equal mass of makeup liquid will enters the downcomer from the containment liquid pool via the sump makeup valve. This recirculation path provides a sufficient mechanism for removal of decay heat from the vessel. The heat transfer rate from the containment through the containment wall to the surrounding pool of water will be sufficient to reject the amount of decay heat produced by the reactor core. Analysis shows that the core will be adequately supplied with cooling flow throughout the transient.
Submerged breaks result in RCS pressure and level decrease and containment pressure increase responses that are not fast enough to provide an early scram signal. Therefore, a preemptive scram signal is required. A reactivity, or power rate, signal should be appropriate to use for this preemptive scram.
Conduction through the vessel wall is by itself not a sufficient mechanism for heat removal in the present design. A circulation path is required to effectively remove the core decay heat. The sump makeup system is required.”
p. 12. “PERFORMANCE AND SAFETY STUDIES FOR MULTI-APPLICATION, SMALL, LIGHT WATER REACTOR (MASLWR)“1 James E. Fisher, S. Michael Modro, Kevan D. Weaver Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory Jose Reyes, John Groome Oregon State University Pierre Babka Nexant, Inc. http://www4vip.inl.gov/relap5/rius/sunvalley/fisher-maslwr.pdf
“Multi-Application Small Light Water Reactor Final Report ” S. M. Modro J. E. Fisher K. D. Weaver J. N. Reyes, Jr. J. T. Groome P. Babka T. M. Carlson
December 2003 Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory Bechtel BWXT Idaho, LLC INEEL/EXT-04-01626, p. 46
“Normal operation and operational transients are, by definition, expected and must demonstrate a significant margin to onset of critical heat flux. Incidents of moderate frequency are considered likely to occur one or more times during the normal life of the plant, and include operator errors and failures of systems known to have low reliability. The design must be able to withstand the occurrence of these events without damage to the core and with minimum impact on system operability. Infrequent faults are events that are remotely possible, for example piping ruptures. The design must be able to tolerate these events with minimum damage to the reactor core, and with no release of fission products from the fuel. Beyond-design-basis accidents are considered to be noncredible occurrences. Some fuel damage may occur; however, radiation exposure to the public must not occur.” http://www.osti.gov/scitech/servlets/purl/839135
 “5 022a
SBO – failure of the ADS vent valves: valve stuck open at the first opening Sump valve not operated
To investigate the grace time and the containement pressure peak if SUMP valves are not operated and the ADS vent valves stuck open.
HTC top valve opened
Grace time of about 6 hours before CHF conditions are reached at top of the core. The dryout cannot be quenched
Primary system coolant released thorugh the HTC top valve outside the contaiment” From “Deterministic safety analysis of Station Blackout postulater accident on the basis of the SMR simulator MASLWR , A. Del Nevo Report RdS/2012/014, Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie,l’energia http://www.enea.it/it/Ricerca_sviluppo/documenti/ricerca-di-sistema-elettrico/nuovo-nucleare-fissione/lp2/2011/014-lp2-rds-pdf (NuScale alleges that they have fixed things where any sticking valves will be stuck in the best possible configuration, whatever that means. If you think they’ve really a solution, then there’s property for sale in Bayou Corne, Louisiana, aka Louisiana Sinkhole.)