Secretary Granholm answers press questions at the Clinch River Nuclear Site while TVA president and CEO Jeff Lyash listens. (Photo: TVA)
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm visited the Clinch River Nuclear Site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on December 5 to highlight the Biden administration’s support for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s advanced nuclear technology program.
Granholm indicated that the administration is willing to provide funding for the nation’s first commercial small modular reactor at the site. “Excited to see a shovel in the ground, hopefully in a few more years,” she said. “TVA is leading on small modular reactors with this site. Everybody’s looking to TVA to make sure that this can actually happen.”
Crewmembers stand in front of the first stainless-steel container filled with molten test glass at Hanford’s Vit Plant. (Photo: Bechtel National)
Bechtel and the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced on December 4 that the first set of test glass was successfully poured into a stainless-steel storage container designed to hold vitrified waste at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, president of Kazakhstan (standing), looks on as the commercial uranium fuel supply contract between ENEC and Kazatomprom is signed. (Photo: Kazatomprom)
On the margins of the COP28 climate conference in Dubai, UAE, this week, Barakah nuclear plant owner Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) signed its first commercial uranium fuel supply contract with Kazatomprom, in addition to memorandums of understanding with two U.S.-based advanced reactor developers—TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH).
The author on a walking tour of SONGS, with the reactor dome and dry cask storage in the background. (Photos by Amelia Tiemann)
Recently I had the opportunity to be the American Nuclear Society’s boots on the ground when I traveled to San Diego during Nuclear Science Week. I got to meet dozens of members of the nuclear community, tour the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, attend a screening of Oliver Stone’s Nuclear Now, and listen to a lively panel discussion about the importance of nuclear energy for solving climate change. It was a fun and illuminating experience, and I left with the impression that, excitingly, nuclear curiosity is on the rise.
A map of the potential reactor siting area (in green) at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska provided during a pre-proposal conference in October 2022. (Graphic: Department of the Air Force)
Plans announced with fanfare sometimes falter in the face of competition or economics. Take NuScale Power’s plans for the Carbon Free Power Project in Idaho: The project was canceled in mid-November by NuScale and its first customer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, after nearly a decade. The significance of that news depends on the observer. NuScale intends to focus on other sites and customers. Competitors may redouble efforts to tout their own designs and customer lists. Media found an opportunity to speculate about the future of advanced nuclear. And while many in the nuclear community believe the momentum in favor of new nuclear deployments is continuing—or even increasing as COP28 continues—others would caution against high hopes and point to the persistent obstacles of regulation, supply chain constraints, and financing costs.
Framatome CEO Bernard Fontana (left) and Teodor Chirica, Nuclearelectrica board president, shake hands following the signing of the Lu-177 MOU in Paris. (Photo: Framatome)
Framatome and Nuclearelectrica, operator of Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear power plant, announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to explore the possibility of producing the medical isotope lutetium-177. The cooperative agreement was signed during the World Nuclear Exhibition 2023, held November 28–30 in Paris.