Nuclear: Mickey Mouse energy solutionToday's big stories from the nuclear industry:

NRC investigates Calvert Cliffs' unscheduled shutdown

‘Federal inspectors are at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant this week to investigate an unexpected shutdown of both reactors last week, which a plant spokesman said apparently was triggered by melting snow leaking through the plant's roof. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a five-member "special inspection team" Monday to the 1,750-megawatt plant near Lusby in Calvert County, which is owned by Constellation Energy. It's expected to remain there all week, NRC spokeswoman Diane Screnci said. "There was never any danger," the NRC spokeswoman said, "but we want a better understanding of why it happened and what steps they're taking to prevent a recurrence." Both of the plant's nuclear reactors shut down automatically Thursday morning as a result of electrical malfunctions, evidently triggered by "a small roof leak" of melting snow, according to David Fitz, spokesman for Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, a subsidiary of the Baltimore-based power company. Snow melt "trickled down onto an electrical breaker," Fitz said, which caused an "electrical fault" and loss of power to one reactor. The electrical problem on one reactor caused the other to shut down.’

Sellafield considers cull as seagulls swim in radioactive waste

‘Sellafield, the nuclear plant that is Western Europe's most heavily contaminated industrial site, is facing an unexpected environmental challenge. The 262-hectare (645 acres) plant in West Cumbria is being overrun by seagulls, mice and stray cats, and managers are battling to contain the problem. Things have become so serious that a cull of seabirds is being considered. There are concerns that some have been swimming in open ponds containing plutonium and radioactive waste, some of which date back to Britain's atomic weapons programme of the 1950s and 1960s. "It's a coastal site so there are thousands of seagulls around," said Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment. "They fly in and float around on the open waste ponds and act as a gateway to poison the wider area." Ali McKibbin, media relations manager at the plant, confirmed that 350 animal carcasses were being stored in an industrial freezer on the site, mostly birds but also some small mammals. Under Environment Agency rules, any animal that dies within the perimeter fence must be treated as nuclear waste, because it may have been exposed to radiation.’

US to assist Emirates with nuclear power effort

‘The U.S. has signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to work with the Gulf country to develop its civilian nuclear energy program. State news agency WAM says U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash signed the cooperation and information-sharing agreement in the Emirates capital, Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday. WAM says the agreement creates a framework for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration to assist its Emirati counterparts.’

Philippines - Presidential candidate Gordon in favor of nuclear power

‘DINALUPIHAN, Bataan-Presidential candidate Sen. Richard Gordon is in favor of using nuclear power to supply more energy in the country but he will only support the opening of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) with the public's approval and if the country's scientists will guarantee that it will be safe to use. Speaking before some 200 students at the Bataan Peninsula State University campus here on Tuesday afternoon, Gordon said: "I am in favor of nuclear power because we need it." Freshman student Aldrine Teleron asked Gordon during a question-and-answer session at the campus if he was in favor of nuclear power and if he was in favor of opening the BNPP. Gordon categorically said he approved nuclear power, but he was non-committal about his stand in the proposed opening of the BNPP. Gordon said: "I don't know yet. I will have to check. Does it have cracks? How much will it cost to open it?"’

Areva May Be Interested in Egypt's Nuclear Plans

‘Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Areva SA, the world's largest builder of nuclear reactors, is interested in participating in plans to build Egypt's first nuclear-power plant, the country's Electricity and Energy Ministry said on its Web site today. Egypt plans to select the company to build the nuclear power station by the end of this year, Electricity and Energy Minister Hassan Younes said in a statement on the ministry's Web Site. It cited Areva Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon as being interested in competing. Areva lost out on a $20 billion contract to build four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates last December. A group led by Korea Electric Power Corp. won instead. Areva was part of a team that included Electricite de France SA, GDF Suez SA and Total SA.’

Work halted to dig up waste in central Hanford

‘Work has stopped to dig up waste contaminated with plutonium at Hanford after two incidents earlier this month. Problems related to the incidents included hazards not being adequately identified and responsibilities of workers not matching their training or qualifications, said Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board staff in a weekly report just released. "Worker and management responses demonstrated a failure to implement lessons learned" from previous problems encountered by other Hanford contractors, the safety board report said. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. has been digging up transuranic waste, typically waste contaminated with plutonium, that was temporarily buried after 1970. Then Congress said transuranic waste must be sent to a national repository, but until the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico opened, the waste was buried for later retrieval. Much of the transuranic waste retrieved so far was in drums and boxes neatly stacked in holes dug in central Hanford and then covered with dirt. But CH2M Hill has begun work on Trench 11, where the waste was dropped in helter-skelter.’

Incomplete documents lead to partial shutdown at Global Nuclear Fuel

‘An ongoing review of safety-related documents at Global Nuclear Fuel resulted in the temporary shutdown of part of the company's Castle Hayne uranium fuel fabrication operations, the company told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday. The company, which is majority owned by GE, said documents related to the safe handling of hydrofluoric material were found to be incomplete Monday, which led to the shutdown of operations using the material Tuesday morning. "While this discovery did not result in an unsafe condition, it is being reported" within 24 hours as required by NRC regulations, Global Nuclear's report to the commission said. The company's review of safety-related documents began in early November after the NRC identified five apparent violations related to incomplete documentation at the Castle Hayne facility.’