2012 promises to be an extremely consequential year for American nuclear energy. In the grand tradition of sneak previews, the first news to hit made 2011:
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved the amended design for the Westinghouse AP1000, a reactor that several power companies intend to use for building the first new U.S. nuclear plants in decades.
“The design provides enhanced safety margins through use of simplified, inherent, passive, or other innovative safety and security functions, and also has been assessed to ensure it could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in a statement.
And that means this in – we hope – the early part of next year:
The certification brings Southern Company subsidiary Southern Nuclear one step closer to receiving the first Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for a U.S. nuclear plant.
"This is another key milestone for the Vogtle project and the nation's nuclear renaissance," said Southern Company Chairman, President and CEO Thomas A. Fanning. "The NRC's action confirms the AP1000 design is safe and meets all regulatory requirements. The commission now has all of the technical information needed to issue the Vogtle COL.
Rapidly followed by this:
Once the AP1000 certification is complete, we expect the COL to be issued in short order for the … Summer project [in South Carolina]. Once the COL are issued, we'll begin a significant ramp-up in work ….
This is from the Shaw Group’s earnings call on December 21, so they were a day early. I captured the Summer part, but Shaw is working on Vogtle, too.
It’s like a gift, isn’t it?
And now a completely different kind of gift, from our friends at Russia’s Rosatom (click for larger):
Yes, they’ve taken some of their more athletic and beauteous workers – from the Siberian Chemical Combine, a used fuel reprocessing plant - and posed them after statues of Greek gods and goddesses for a calendar – at least, I think they’re workers. World Nuclear News doesn’t make this clear and neither does the Rosatom blog.
But – it’s fun to imagine that’s who they are – and why not? Russian nuclear facilities often tout the athletic achievements of their workers and this tilts that interest in another direction – toward beef- and cheesecake, true, but Rosatom also does a beauty pageant. It’s a cultural thing.
The statues – in the lower left of the photos - are mostly naked but the workers are at least as clothed as Poseidon there, so decide for yourself how safe-for-work this is before clicking through.
I wonder if this sort of thing is common throughout Russian industrial spheres.