Whoa, got some catching up to do!  Last Saturday, yes, a week ago, it was the annual open house at Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant.  They had “fewer menu options” this year, I think last time they had salad and beans, but this year it was kinda grim for us “flexitarians.”  But there was plenty of food for thought: They had a number of displays in various rooms at the training center, and maybe these were the ones that were at the Goodhue County Historical Society a while ago, some looked familiar.  Anyway, I made a bee-line for the casks, and had quite a chat with the staffer “whose name I can’t remember.”  Why casks? Well, casks and I have a long history… and some things about the casks have not been resolved.

Report of the Site Advisory Task Force – January 1996

At the very beginning of attempts to utilize casks at Prairie Island, well, let us not forget the time the crane got stuck with the cask dangling way at the top dangling over the spent fuel pool:

Licensees have also experienced problems during the 
movement of casks as a result of crane interlocks,
errors in the accounting for the weights of cask components, and human error... At Prairie Island
on May 13, 1995, a cask remained in the hoisted
position above the spent fuel pool for approximately
16 hours while the licensee developed and implemented
corrective actions to address an overload-sensing
system that was inaccurately calibrated for lifting
of a loaded dry storage cask. Changes in the
lifting procedure were required at Prairie Island
when it was discovered that a dry storage cask
weighed more than expected. The weight difference
was found to be the result of acceptable variations
in manufacturing tolerances that had not been
accounted for in previous weight calculations.

See also:  NRC IN 96-26, “Recent Problems With Overhead Cranes,” issued April 30, 1996 (Accession Number 9604260095).

A very important issue to me that wasn’t resolved was how to change the cask seals.  Each cask is like a giant steel thermos, with spent fuel assemblies dropped into a grid inside the cask, a seal is put on top and then the cover is bolted down.  The seals are made of aluminum and stainless steel, and when they’re bolted down, the seal crushes some and seals the cask to prevent leakage.  Each cask has monitors that measure inside and outside pressure and are designed to notify us of leaks.  HOWEVER, these seals are to be replaced every 20 years.  That’s a problem because to replace a seal, the cask will have to go into the pool, be filled, and the lid taken off.  Putting it in the water creates two issues: thermal shock and radioactive steam. It’s my understanding that a cask loaded for an extended period has not been unloaded.  Extended meaning years, like these casks at Prairie Island.  It was tried many years ago and resulted in a 3 Stooges scenario where they got the TN 24P into the pool, took the lid off, and one of the assemblies had warped due to the high temp inside the cask, and got stuck coming out.  But they couldn’t get it back in.  So they tried pulling, pushing, called in the experts.  Read between the lines:

INEL-TN-24P-stuck

Here’s a choice on, the “Point Beach Ignition Event” where they left a loaded, but not welded, cask sitting overnight, and when the next crew came in to weld it shut, well, zinc and boron = BOOM!

Pt. Beach Cask Explosion 5/28/1996

EPRI reports on TransNuclear casks:

10150992-p15-TN-24P Warpage 10813-TN4P Leak

On Saturday, I verified that no cask seals have been replaced.  It’s been 22 years since the first cask was loaded at Prairie Island, I think it was May 1995.  So, what’s the deal here, are they just not going to do it?  Inquiring minds want to know!

I did learn that there has been limited unloading of casks, notably at Peach Bottom, and doing my homework found this report on the TN 68 (having trouble uploading here, have another better report on this… soon!):

o5/27/2011 Peach Bottom ISFSI Inspection

There’s a EPRI report on “Premature Degradation” but I’ve certainly not got the thousands of dollars to buy it. 

 

Comments on the Minn. R. Ch. 7849 and 7850 rulemaking are due next Monday!  Are you making any progress? Info on who, what, where, why, when of filing comments is here:

20173-130158-01_Notice of Comment Period

What to comment on? Here are the latest draft rules:

February 2017 Draft 7849 February 2017 Draft 7850

Get to it!  

Xcel’s 2016 Earnings Call was this morning.  Look at the above chart, pay close attention to the numbers I’ve highlighted in yellow.  2016 4th Quarter sales growth is down 0.6%.  Yearly sales decrease is -0.3%.  Here’s the rest of the Earnings Call Presentation:

1001219517_Presentation_Year End 2016

Remember CapX 2020, based on projections of annual increases of 2.49%.  Remember Commerce’s Steve Rakow who introduced the most bizarre chart ever in an effort to prop up need for CapX 2020, one without identifying the X axis or Y axis and just a sine wave trending sharply upward?  Yea, this one…

Hasn’t worked out that way, has it… the 2016 10-K isn’t filed yet, so there’s only 2015 to go on, though looking at their 10-Q for summer, I expect it’s flat at best.

So with sales down, I presume it’ll be flat peak demand?  It’s not disclosed in the 3rd Quarter 10-Q.  Xcel, we’ll be looking for that this month in your 10-K filing!

orangehaired-troll

Trump’s energy agenda, vague as it is, has been essentially to promote “clean coal,” nuclear and to deny climate change and dismantle federal climate change and “renewable” energy programs, of course with no move to eliminate subsidies for coal and nuclear.  The “transition team” sent a big laundry list of questions to the Department of Energy, and it’s pretty broad.  It’s also something that would be both telling and intimidating to receive.  Looking at this, there’s no doubt where they’re headed.

Here’s the document — read it and see what you think… and note how many of these questions are “Can you provide…” which are easily answered with just a “Yes” or “No” and that’s the end of it!

DOE – Trump Transition’s Questions

But wait… there’s another version (similar, but different order, etc.):

DOE – Trump Transition Question #2

I think Trump needs somebody to write his questions for him, somebody new that is.  He obviously didn’t come up with this, but his staff person who did, well, if they worked for me, “YOU’RE FIRED!”

mickeymouse

Here we go again, the Annual Hearing for the Power Plant Siting Act.

ppsa-2016

The full Notice:

16-0433 Notice of the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

Now’s the time to dig back into the cobwebs of memory of all the dockets over the last year, and the last 20+ years, and let them know how the Power Plant Siting Act is working, and more importantly, how it’s not working.

Comments are open until January 20, 2017.  To file in eDockets (highly recommended), go here, and log in.  If you don’t have an account, register (it’s simple, and fast) and then file in docket 16-18.

Note something different, this year they’re going to go over pipeline projects:

iiid2Recently, I’ve been involved in a project working toward increased meaningful and effective public participation in a pipeline docket, and what’s going through my head as I attend meetings, conference calls, and read very long intense emails, is that this is exactly what we’ve been talking about at these Power Plant Siting Act hearings for TWENTY YEARS!  This is exactly what we’ve been working to deal with in the Certificate of Need Minn. Ch. 7849 rulemaking for THREE YEARS!  These are exactly the same issues I’ve been raising in docket after docket, gaining a remand in one, some “adjustments” in others, and even to the appellate court a couple of times — MCEA had more success in this (see the EIS decision here).  And so little changes.

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report to PUC – Docket 12-360

2013 Report to PUC – Docket 13-965

2014 Summary Comments– Docket 14-887

2015 Summary Report – Docket 15-785

OK, folks, time to saddle up for another cattle drive!  Let’s get to it!

And on December 20… sigh…