2016 Energy Solutions Conference Wrap Up
- Two big milestones completed at Zion. The project is profitable and will be completed two years ahead of schedule.
- EnergySolutions was awarded the Dairyland Power contract, illustrated they are leading in decommissioning.
- Three big transactions in 2015. The MHF acquisition. The announced sale of the PP&T business. And the definitive agreement signed to acquire WCS.
The EnergySolutions strategy is to focus on U.S. commercial business and serve the existing nuclear power plants in the U.S. EnergySolutions will continue to look for additional acquisitions moving forward to serve this purpose and grow their leadership in decommissioning.
Keynote Speaker: Mr. Aldo Capristo, Executive VP and Chief Administrative Officer, STP Nuclear Operating Company.
Mr. Capristo noted the theme of the conference “Changing Times,” and noted this was very true for the nuclear industry.
He focused on the South Texas Project, where Capristo has been working for a little over a year. The first thing he noticed was the value and importance of being a strong community partner. In working with city officials, that community footprint is critical and has served them well in Texas. He applauded EnergySolutions for having those same commitments.
Mr. Capristo spoke of the real economic development impacts that a nuclear power plant has on their communities. South Texas Project has a $2.2 billion impact every year. He noted the importance of keeping those plants working and functioning as long as possible so they can have that positive impact on people’s lives.
He spoke of the value and importance to make that models are long term sustainable, have the ability to compete with wind and solar, and be meaningful in the spot market when demand is high. Mr. Capristo echoed the importance of safety, because “if we don’t do it safe, than we can’t operate at all.” He noted there is a real focus around budgeting and implementing cost saving initiatives. South Texas Project executives and the nuclear institute got together to strategize on safety, profitability and reliability.
He suggested that attendees look at the following website for more details:
The Nuclear Promise: focusing on 10 specific initiative areas: http://www.nei.org/News-Media/News/News-Archives/Nuclear-Promise-Program-Aims-to-Boost-Industry-Eff
And a second website: www.nuclearmatters.com
He challenged vendors and operators to work together to be stronger business partners and work together on the initiatives to be more profitable, more reliable and safer.
John Sauger began the panel discussion by illustrating how EnergySolutions approaches a decommissioning project—outlining each functional area and the processes for accomplishing each step. He noted the proprietary process they follow and the end value for EnergySolutions customers.
He touched on a few key elements:
Investing in the right places: for example they just purchased diamond wire saws. It was a big investment and there is a real art to use these saws. That being said, this investment and training allowed EnergySolutions to cut the dose rate by 80% just in using diamond wire saws.
They create clean reports with two pages of metrics—keeping the dashboard efficient.
He noted their system is much like the New England Patriots—The efficiency and success is because of the system, “even though we have different players every week, everyone can follow the same system.”
He then shared a video of the 2015 year in review at Zion. The 6 minute video highlighted the following:
- No safety incidents
- First steam reactor removal
- Shipped 152,000 cubic feet of Class A waste to Clive and over 1000 cubic feet of Class B and C waste to WCS.
Immediately following Sauger’s presentation the Zion Decommissioning team presented project updates.
Mr. Pryor reviewed the decommissioning operations and RVI, noting that manpower is essential to the success of the project. By utilizing specialized work forces and 2 cutting areas, they have improved efficiencies. Additionally to ensure work is completed on schedule, they have vetted vendors with back-up vendors, ensuring no lapses. He noted all vendors are screened for a strong understand of nuclear work, plus ES training for all vendors prior to work for smooth operations.
Lessons learned in 2015:
- Can’t share resources
- Water management is critical
- Necessary to have strong training programs
Spoke about the licensing model for Zion and EnergySolutions.
- Begin with a detailed plan and schedule for the entire 10 years of the project. Licensing cannot limit the pace of field work and the strive to be 18 months ahead of the field so no one is waiting
- Be ready /nimble for the daily problems that arise. Be the single point of contact in coordinating all the agency inspections.
- Manage all the ancillary duties. Regulatory commitments, strategic planning meetings, oversee SCWE program, survey twice and dig once, self-assessments and manage correspondence on inspections.
Zion is a benchmark. EnergySolutions is responsive to regulators, with low violation, and there are consistent and regular communications to building trust and regulatory margin. EnergySolutions is viewed as a trusted leader, and they employ a peer process to ensure regulatory reviews.
One efficiency Mr. van Noordennen noted is to mentor new members quickly and provide licensing support to other decommissioning projects. This has been working quite well for EnergySolutions.
Lessons learned: Start to finish experience is highly valuable because it affords the ability to develop that full schedule and budget with historic knowledge.
At the end, the final report is simply a stack of 3 ring binders that illustrates you are clean and have met all the standards. It is important to know the end point physically. End point decisions affect the very beginning of the project. This allows you to know what you are up against from the start.
- Know your site characterization, make sure it is right.
- Spend time getting correct and valuable data about your site.
- Take advantage of technology such as advanced wireless communications and audio communication site wide.
He noted that Zion has one of the lowest dosage D&D to date and exposure foal reduced 60%. Own the RP envelope: effluent monitoring and control, plant ventilation, personnel exit monitoring and emergency plans. Track your rad shipping data.
Mr. Williams shared how stewardship is also a high priority for EnergySolutions at Zion. There are two state parks and endangered species in the area. ES has cared for and built an environment for the fox snake, relocated geese nests and the common tern is the future site resident—an endangered species that EnergySolutions will create a habitat for.
Tony Oraweic- Decommissioning Plant Manager, Zion: Exelon Corp View Presentation
Mr. Oraweic focused his session on navigating changes required during the decommissioning operations: most operations are resistant to change but EnergySolutions has to manage it to be successful.
Zion embodies an architecture that aggressively reduces risks day to day and sets the mindset for making decisions- applied in a revised framework and new decommissioning model.
Success requires adaptability—the model must foster that with expectation and leaders that will lead by example. It is imperative to reinforce communications at every meeting. Additionally, know which systems can be modified and which have to go—this is very important. Use your available experience to mentor the changes.
Success demands a vision of the end state. Risks are reduced and processes are made more simple with a vision of the end in mind. Any process that adds complexity is likely the wrong direction.
Kelly Ratzberg, Project Manager, Zion View Presentation Ms. Ratzberg reviewed the Cold, Dark and Dry operations at Zion beginning with the isolation of all electrical and mechanical site and plant systems and enhancing the safety of demolition activities
The elements within Cold Dark and Dry include:
- Repowering efforts.
- Isolations of electrical and mechanical.
- Relocation of personnel.
- Engineering changes.
- Financial controls
- Stewardship and environmental care
- All spent fuel safely stored balance in dormant condition
They meet these goals by developing an organization to oversee these processes.
Timelines are similar for current projects and staffing plans are critical. Mr. Paradis noted that understanding the right staffing programs for each project is highly critical as this is the largest expense for the projects. It’s a matter of right staffing, not over or under.
Crystal River Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning- Duke Energy
- 4 coal fired units on the same campus.
- Reached SAFESTOR in July 2015 and will use the 60 year process allowed by NRC regulations.
- Cost estimate is $1.18B with a fund established to cover the cost of the project.
- The retirement decision was made in Feb. 2013 and they filed their post shut down strategy by the end of the year. After completing SAFESTOR 1 in July 2015 they are moving to SAFESTOR 2.
- Concentrate in site reductions to reduce staffing
- Establish abandonment process
Mr. Rod opened by stating that safety is first and foremost and the celebrated 1000 safe work days in July and are at 1159 currently.
HBPP started in 2008 and has had some unique challenges, including having to implement a process to control the extreme levels of alpha contamination.
2009 and 2010 they had electrical component removal.
2011 fossil plant demo project, which was completed ahead of schedule and real success story for PG&E community. This has become a contracting model for civil works transition.
2013 was the turbine building demo project
Insights and key strategies: Be flexible to keep the field moving forward. The project planning process is critical and keeps field moving.
Transportation and Logistics Panel
Scott Dempsey—Vice President, Director of Sales and Marketing, MHF Services (Presentation)
Mr. Dempsey discussed transportation model for Energy Solutions—connecting the packaging and transportation—linking them together to provide the best solution. Mr. Dempsey noted the ES policy of “full transparency” in costing and estimating from point A to point B. This allows customers to easily fit estimates into their cost model. With the current business development, ES can do full service or fill the specific needs of your project, whichever will best support the project logistically and financially.
Some key accomplishments-
- Support for every nuclear decommissioning
- GE Hudson River project, Hurricane Katrina work
- Combustions coal residue and nuclear fuel services
- Also work on the mining side with Newmont and Eagle mining.
Mr. Lewis began with the reference point of post 9/11 when there was a greater concern surrounding nuclear transportation and the risk of terrorist attacks.
He covered other significant historic milestones that have affected the type of materials and quantities that could be transported and stored as well as the grandfathering period post October 1, 2008.
- In spring 2011 the NRC authorized the blending of materials and this opened the door to partnerships blending high and low radioactivity materials.
- WCS opened their site in Spring 2012 creating a new opportunity for type B casks, as the current five type B casks were not enough to service the industry. Licenses were upgraded in order to build new casks.
- He reviewed the current cask inventory with 95 of them ready to go and ready to be shipped out for use.
- The DOE has approved a number of auxiliary shields to be able to handle higher radioactivity materials.
What’s in the future? Fabricating and designing new type B casks and licensing those with auxiliary shields to be able to transport different and more varied materials.
Mr. Wink discussed transportation from a customer standpoint. He began by sharing that Newmont is one of the world’s largest gold producers, with most of the operations in Nevada. They also have mines in Colorado, Africa, South America, Asia and Australia. Their main product is gold, however they contract with MHF to handle copper concentrate and cathode. Copper concentrate transport is where they partner with ES. This is not necessarily a haz mat product, but does still need careful, secure and safe transport. Concentrate is shopped to Vancouver or Ontario for further processing.
Mark reviewed the different cask types and features/benefits of each. Exelon manages a fleet of 14 nuclear power plants across 5 states. ES is the contract provider and Mr. Ross was complimentary of their responsive to timelines.
Rob wrapped up the transport and logistic panel- they operate out of Ogden, Utah and Pocatello, Idaho—they provide fabrication and machining service and have built over 600 vessels in their history.
The unique feature about Peterson is it is entirely employee owned—100 ESOP. This results in very passionate employees to provide the best service and quality product to their customers.
Mr. Despain commended EnergySolutions for understanding the power of WE in this industry. There is hand in hand development and problem solving, creating a feeling of success amongst the team. Peterson, Inc. were the “new kids” with the Zion Solutions Spent Fuel Cask and they delivered first on time and on budget. Peterson and Energy Solutions have formed a winning combination in taking care of employees, delivering great service, and staying within budgets.
DOE Waste Disposal Overview:
Ms. Gelles opened with the positive news that FY 2015 funding was $5.86B and FY 2016 $6.22B— a $400M increase showing that waste management is a priority for our government. The increase is targeted to areas for radioactive waste and WIPP.
She shared details of the Atomic Energy Act. DOE has a unique waste management mission and cannot always use commercial facilities, but must have DOD facilities as well. There is a deeply embedded history of independence between commercial and federal waste management and disposal.
1991 was the first time that DOE utilized a facility that was not on government land—that was the Clive facility and a symbol of the innovation that happens with the type of people in the room, attending the conference.
Over the last decade there have been significant stakeholders and government officials interested in waste management matters. Some of the important matters being discussed—DU, class B and C waste among others.
The good news is that 90% of waste is disposed on site and overall—the amount of waste is decreasing.
Ms. Gelles noted that going forward it is important to be flexible and have alternatives. And the solutions/alternatives of today be preserved. Monitor details at sites while allowing flexibility and maintaining fiscal responsibility and safety is a good management hybrid.
At the close, she thanked EnergySolutions for their commitment and partnership with the DOE.
Mr. Lobdell also thanked ES for their part in the critical success of DOE and waste management and then began a Fluor BWXT Portsmouth, LLC project overview.
Mr. Lobdell called Fluor BWXT a study in change, as they are going through so many changes and learnings with the project.
He spoke of the large site with changing priorities and funding. Site stats include 3777 acres total with 415 structures and 14,700 process components. Noting that the scope of work is truly incredible.
Cleanup is focused on legacy waste, deactivation of buildings, D&D of the support building and environmental restoration. With timing and schedule it will likely be 2020 before waste starts going in to their new landfill.
He discussed the regulatory setting noting that PORTS is not an NPL site, but they are highly regulated. He shared they did receive two key approvals this year to continue D&D.
The scheduled finish is 2040 before all pieces are completed.
Mr. Morris talked about the changes at NRC in response to the current environment and the focus on changing regulatory structure to accommodate recent shutdowns and the fact that plants won’t be around forever. Now is a good time to get regulatory infrastructure as efficient as possible.
To address unplanned reactor shutdowns- they have:
- Consolidated project management responsibility.
- Formed an interoffice reactor decommissioning working group.
- Developed interim staff guidance.
- Are looking at potential regulatory improvements from past lessons learned.
Lessons learned and challenges:
- 54P security plan reviews and fatigue.
- Decommissioning trust fund.
- Degradation of some neutron absorbing material.
- Ongoing communications between NRC and licensee—the more we talk, before during, and after- the better the process will be.
- Internally it is challenging to prioritize efficiency rules or safety rules.
- Really trying to look at the rule making process and make it comprehensive so that all necessary items can be addressed together. It’s about creating efficiency.
- Application of back-fitting protection
- Decommissioning trust finds
- Offsite liability protection insurance requirements
- Cumulative effects of regulation
- Cost benefit
Mr. Morris noted they are hopeful to have final rule submitted in early 2019.
Mr. Storton opened with a brief overview of NWXT noting there are 5 divisions in the Nuclear Operations and many of the waste disposal challenges they have are dealing with mixed waste.
BWXT won a contract with DOE called Project Sapphire and developed some chemistry and created an acid that allowed them to progress on the project. Ultimately they needed EnergySolutions to come in on-site and help them find ways to dispose of the waste. Had they not done that the waste would likely still be there.
Another problem they solved was desludging a pond and were able to send those containers to Clive for permanent storage. EnergySolutions was able to come in and take care of that project start to finish, illustrating a great teamwork example to solve a problem.
They created a life of plant contract negotiated in 2005 to stabilize prices and negotiate a few additional special projects. There was a new contract renegotiated in 2015 and part of this was creating a customer portal (EASY), which allows the customer to know what shipments are being made as well as timing and completion of those project. Mr. Storton noted that his has been a great resource for transportation logistics.
Mr. Newmaster focused his presentation on the old steam dryer packaging and disposal at Peach Bottom.
He noted that cutting up an old steam dryer is challenging, but even more so at Peach Bottom as they had to navigate the process in quite a small space. Not only did they do this, but accomplished the task during other operations at the plant. Exelon utilized EnergySolutions and thought they were going to take to Clive, but the characterization was off a bit and the radiological level was too high for Clive. They made adjustments and those containers are stored elsewhere. Mr. Newmaster showed several photos of the tight spaces, discussed how they overcame challenges. In one case, they had just over 2 inches of clearance, but were able to dispose of that steam dryer.
Mr. Wood opened noting some changing philosopy at TVA. He then explained that TVA is a quasi-government entity, established in 1933 as a federal corporation under President Roosevelt.
He noted they are a little different from any other utility—if they have excess power- they have to sell at cost without mark up or profit.
Mr. Wood noted that TVA is leading in small module reactors. There is a new one in Tennessee on federally owned land that will feed the DOE. Permitting will continue in 2016 for more small-module reactors.
He noted TVA is going with the changing times—about 4 years ago the thought process was “store everything.” Currently, TVA ships much of that away with just 43 containers stored onsite. He noted this was much safer than having all our waste stored on site with the impetus being what happened at Brownsferry. Mr. Wood discusses the other benefit in that getting rid of some waste gave them some regulatory margin and helped them with public opinion. TVA has garnered increased public support there as well.
The current policy for disposal is: If DAW, then 3 months to dispose. For Class A- 6 months to dispose, for Class B Resins, 1 year.