The DRUM program: Cataloging America’s abandoned uranium mines

September 30, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste SolutionsGuest Contributor
DRUM team members at the Telluride 18 mine in the Yellow Cat area of southwest Colorado.

Based on a review of U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) records and available data from numerous agencies, there are an estimated 4,225 mines across the country that provided uranium ore to the U.S. government for defense-related purposes between 1947 and 1970. To aid in the cleanup of these legacy uranium mines and establish a record of their locations and current conditions, the Defense-Related Uranium Mines (DRUM) program was established within the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management (LM).

Germany okays keeping two nuclear plants in reserve for winter

September 30, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Germany’s Isar nuclear plant, located in Essenbach, Bavaria. (Photo: Elmschrat/WikiCommons)

With a reluctant bow to the reality of the energy crisis gripping Europe, the German government this week took a slight step back from its antinuclear power stance, forging an agreement with the operators of the Isar and Neckarwestheim plants to keep those facilities in “operational reserve” this winter should they be needed to ensure the country’s energy security.

Company launched to develop NuScale SMRs in Romania

September 30, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Romanian energy minister Virgil Popescu; E-Infra CEO Teofil Mureșan; Nuclearelectrica board chairman Teodor Chirica; and U.S. undersecretary for economic development, energy, and environment Jose Fernandez. (Photo: Nuclearelectrica)

Energy firms Nuclearelectrica and Nova Power & Gas have launched a joint venture, RoPower Nuclear, for the development of small modular reactors in Romania, with SMR technology provided by NuScale Power, of Portland, Ore.

Largely state-owned, Nuclearelectrica operates Romania’s sole nuclear power facility, the two-unit Cernavoda plant, while Nova Power & Gas, a subsidiary of the privately held E-Infra Group, is a supplier and distributor of electricity and natural gas in Romania. The two firms own equal shares of RoPower.

Maintaining RIPB in commercial LWRs

September 29, 2022, 3:22PMNuclear NewsKent B. Welter

The new standard ANSI/ANS-30.3-2022, Light Water Reactor Risk-Informed, Performance-Based Design, has just been issued by the American Nuclear Society. Approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) on July 21, 2022, the standard provides requirements for the incorporation of risk-informed, performance-based (RIPB) principles and methods into the nuclear safety design of commercial light water reactors. The process described in this standard establishes a minimum set of process requirements the designer must follow in order to meet the intent of this standard and appropriately combine deterministic, probabilistic, and performance-based methods during design development.

CNSC vendor design review of eVinci microreactor to begin

September 29, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News

Westinghouse's eVinci microreactor (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a service agreement with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to bring the eVinci microreactor closer to commercialization, the company announced Tuesday. The agreement initiates a vendor design review (VDR)—a prelicensing technical assessment of a company’s reactor technology.

The objective of a VDR, according to the CNSC, is to verify the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations, as well as Canadian codes and standards. The review also aims to identify fundamental barriers to licensing a new design in Canada and to assure that a resolution path exists for any design issues identified.

New U.S.-Japan agreement on HEU-to-LEU conversion

September 29, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
NNSA administrator Jill Hruby (left) holds up the signed MOU on HEU conversion during the agency’s virtual meeting with Japan’s MEXT. (Credit: NNSA)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). The MOU describes their commitment to convert the Kindai University Teaching and Research Reactor (UTR-KINKI) from high-enriched uranium fuel to low-enriched uranium fuel. The nuclear nonproliferation–related agreement also calls for the secure transport of all the HEU to the United States for either downblending to LEU or disposition.

IAEA projects increase in nuclear’s growth for second year in a row

September 29, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency, for the second successive year, has revised upward its annual projections of nuclear power’s potential growth over the coming decades as an electricity provider.

In the just-released 42nd edition of Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050, the IAEA has increased its high-case scenario for nuclear by 10 percent over last year’s report. (In 2021, the agency revised upward its annual projections for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident.)

According to the high-case scenario, world nuclear generating capacity more than doubles to 873 GWe by 2050, compared with current levels of about 390 GWe—an addition of 81 GWe to last year’s projection. In the low-case scenario, generating capacity remains essentially flat.

OPG, Microsoft to work toward net-zero future for Ontario

September 28, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News

Ontario Power Generation and Microsoft Canada have formed a partnership aimed at combatting climate change and driving sustainable growth across the province of Ontario, the Canadian utility announced this week.

Under the partnership, Microsoft will procure clean energy credits (CECs) sourced from OPG’s nuclear and hydro assets in Ontario on an hourly basis. (OPG’s nuclear assets include the four-unit Darlington plant and six-unit Pickering facility.) According to the announcement, this will enable Microsoft to advance toward its 100/100/0 by 2030 goal, which commits the software firm to powering its data centers globally with zero-carbon energy, 24/7.

Teardown commences on West Valley’s Main Plant

September 28, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition of the MPPB, one of the last remaining major facilities at WVDP, is expected to be completed in about 30 months. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said it has met one of its cleanup priorities for 2022 by beginning demolition of the Main Plant Process Building (MPPB) at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) in New York. Located 35 miles south of Buffalo, the 150-acre WVDP site is home to the only commercial spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility to operate in the United States.

DOE opens application process for clean hydrogen hubs

September 28, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Department of Energy has opened the application process for its $7 billion program to create regional clean hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) across the United States. The DOE announced its intention to fund this program in June, the same day that Westinghouse Electric and Bloom Energy announced plans to develop the electrolysis technology that nuclear power plants can use to produce clean hydrogen from water. The DOE H2Hubs program is funded by the recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and supports the H2@Scale Initiative to create networks of hydrogen producers, consumers, and local infrastructure. According to the DOE, at least one of the planned hydrogen hubs will use nuclear power to generate the hydrogen.

New standard available on thermal energy deposition rates

September 28, 2022, 6:51AMANS News

Belgium’s nuclear phaseout begins

September 27, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant. (Photo: N. Hippert/IAEA)

Unit 3 at the Doel nuclear power plant has become Belgium’s first reactor to be permanently shuttered, in keeping with that nation’s nuclear phaseout policy. The 1,006-MWe pressurized water reactor, which began commercial operation in October 1982, was removed from service last Friday at 9:31 p.m. (local time).

Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet now consists of six operating units: Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1, -2, and -3. Next on the retirement list is Tihange-2, scheduled to be shut down in February 2023.

DOE releases plan to guide cleanup mission, accelerate progress

September 27, 2022, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) released its EM Program Plan 2022, outlining a decision roadmap the cleanup program will use as a guide over the next two decades.

The new program plan, which was introduced by EM senior advisor William “Ike” White during the National Cleanup Workshop in Arlington, Va., on September 22, completes a trio of outward-facing planning documents, joining EM’s calendar year priorities list and its 10-year Strategic Vision.

Westinghouse partners with nearly two dozen firms in Poland

September 27, 2022, 9:39AMNuclear News
Photo: Westinghouse

Westinghouse Electric Company continues its aggressive campaign to become the large reactor supplier for Poland’s planned nuclear power facilities, recently signing memoranda of understanding with 22 firms in the Central European nation.

The American company, with its AP1000 design, is one of three suppliers vying to provide the units for the first Polish nuclear plant project, the other contenders being Électricité de France and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power.

The MOUs were signed last week in the presence of U.S. ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski.

U.S. fusion pilot program ready to back designs from industry-led teams

September 27, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy announced up to $50 million for a new milestone-based fusion energy development program on September 22. The funding opportunity announcement is open to for-profit companies—possibly teamed with national laboratories, universities, and others—that are prepared to meet major technical and commercialization milestones leading to a pilot fusion power plant design.

Survey: Strong overall support in U.S. for nuclear, but with concerns

September 26, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Results of the American Climate Perspectives Survey 2022 conducted by the climate-focused organization ecoAmerica suggest that the overall national support for research into advanced nuclear energy and for nuclear energy in general are continuing five-year upward trends. However, according to the survey, fewer than half of women responding to the survey support nuclear power. In addition, public concerns about nuclear-related waste disposal, health and safety, and weaponization remain high.

Bids for SMR deployment in Estonia requested

September 26, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
The Estonian flag. (Image: WikiCommons)

Moving forward with its plan for small modular reactor deployment in Estonia, Fermi Energia has issued tenders to three SMR firms—GE Hitachi (GEH), NuScale Power, and Rolls-Royce, developers of the BWRX-300, NuScale Power Module, and Rolls-Royce SMR, respectively.

Saskatchewan IDs potential SMR sites

September 26, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Estevan region (Image: SaskPower)

As part of its planning and regulatory activities to potentially build small modular reactors (SMRs) in currently nuclear-powerless Saskatchewan, Canadian utility SaskPower has selected the province’s Estevan and Elbow regions for further study. (In 2018, SaskPower joined the Canadian government, three other provinces, and four other Canadian utilities to participate in the development of A Call to Action: A Canadian Roadmap for Small Modular Reactors.)

DOE incentivizes interim storage with $16 million funding opportunity

September 26, 2022, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has announced that it will make $16 million in funding available to communities interested in learning more about “consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations.” The funding opportunity follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.