UK Hinkley Point C director quits; US senators agree reactor R&D support

Nuclear power news you need to know.

Hinkley Point C director moves to Entergy

Christopher Bakken is to leave his position as Project Director for EDF’s planned 3.2 GW Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the UK and join US’ Entergy Corporation as executive vice president and chief nuclear officer.

The announcement, made by Entergy January 29, came just days after EDF reportedly postponed a Final Investment Decision on the Hinkley Point C project, until February 16 at the earliest.

Philippe Bordarier, chief nuclear officer for EDF Energy Generation, has been appointed as Bakken’s successor.

The 18 billion pounds ($26 billion) Hinkley Point C project consists of two 1.65 GW EPR reactors and would be the first nuclear plant in the UK in over 20 years.

Under the current project plans, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) has agreed to buy a 33.5% stake, leaving EDF with a 66.5% share.

Financial newspaper Les Echos reported EDF wants to reduce its share in the project and has appealed to the French government to help find other funding sources. The French state owns 85% of EDF.

Reuters reported labor union members on EDF’s board were against the Hinkley Point C project, but said the unions holds six seats on the 18-member board and they would need to get at least three other board members to side with them to block the deal.

Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that none of the other independent or state-appointed board members would side with the unions.

Advanced reactor support added to energy bill

The U.S. Senate approved January 28 an amendment to proposed energy policy which directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize partnering with private innovators on new reactor technologies and the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts.

Under the bipartisan amendment, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would report to Congress on any barriers that would prohibit the licensing of new reactors within a four-year time period, Mike Crapo, Senator for Idaho and proponent of the bill, said in a statement.

The legislation was added to the wider S.2012 Energy Policy Modernization Act, which proposes a range of measures to improve energy efficiency, infrastructure and supply.

“This vote demonstrates the commitment in the Senate to a long-term future for nuclear power production and research opportunities,” Crapo said.

US DoE holds public meeting on waste storage plan

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) has held its first public meeting on proposed consent-based siting of consolidated interim storage facilities and a permanent repository for used nuclear fuel.

The meeting, held in Washington DC on January 20, was the first of several public events aimed at developing a consistent consent-based interim storage plan.

Communities, states, tribes, and other interested stakeholders have until June 15 to comment on the consent-based siting approach, under a consultation launched December 23, 2015.

DoE’s strategy proposes a pilot facility for consolidated storage by 2021, to be followed by a larger storage facility by 2025 and a geological repository for final disposition of used nuclear fuel operational by 2048.

In 2012, a government-commissioned report proposed developing consent-based approaches to siting used fuel storage and disposal facilities, based on models employed in several other countries, including Canada, Finland and Sweden.

This followed the federal government’s decision to shelve the decades-old Yucca Mountain used fuel repository program.

Two private sector interim storage solutions have been proposed. Waste Control Specialists’ (WCS) wants to build a storage facility in Andrews County, Texas, while Holtec International has signed an MoU with Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), owned by New Mexico’s Eddy and Lea counties, to build an underground project 12 miles from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP).