A look back at 1984 U.K. spent fuel flask test

The government of the United Kingdom conducted a series of tests in the 1980s to assess the robustness of spent nuclear fuel packages. One such test involved ramming a 140-ton diesel locomotive into a transportation canister, called a nuclear flask, at 100 miles per hour. The test, according to a recent article published by the online magazine The Drive, was a “smashing” success. Just 0.29 psi of pressure escaped the 50-ton test flask, which had been pressurized to 100 psi.

Rahnema named editor of Nuclear Science and Engineering


Farzad Rahnema, a professor of nuclear engineering and director of the Computational Reactor and Medical Physics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has been appointed editor-designate of the American Nuclear Society’s Nuclear Science and Engineering journal. Rahnema, an ANS Fellow and member since 1989, was named editor-designate on September 8 by ANS President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, and he will begin his duties on October 1. He succeeds current editor Michael Corradini, who has been serving on an interim basis since Dan Cacuci retired from the role in November 2019.

Foundation slabs for Akkuyu-2 reactor, turbine buildings completed

Concrete pouring for the foundation slabs for the Akkuyu-2 reactor and turbine buildings has been completed, Akkuyu Nuclear has announced. Unit 2 is one of four reactors under construction at the Akkuyu site, located on the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey.

More than 17,000 cubic meters (about 600,350 cubic feet) of concrete have been poured into the Akkuyu-2 reactor building’s foundation, The company reported on September 23. The area of the concrete slab is 6,864 square meters (about 73,883 square feet), while its height and depth are 2.6 meters (about 8.5 feet) and over 8 meters (over 26 feet), respectively, according to the company.

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Labor union leader weighs in on closure of Illinois nuclear plants

Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, wrote an op-ed published in the September 25 Chicago Sun-Times touting the benefits of nuclear power in Illinois and decrying Exelon’s plan to prematurely shutter the Byron and Dresden plants.

Feature Article

The Road to Utah

Six large trucks were used to push and pull the SONGS-1 reactor pressure vessel 400 miles through Nevada and into Utah with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour over a 10-day period. Photo: EnergySolutions

July 14 marked a milestone in the decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), as the Unit 1 reactor pressure vessel (RPV) completed a seven-week journey from Southern California to EnergySolutions’ Clive disposal facility in Utah. The approximately 670-ton RPV package, containing the pressure vessel from the previously decommissioned SONGS-1, pieces of radioactive metal, and grout for radiation shielding, left San Onofre on May 24, traveling by rail to a location outside Las Vegas, where it was transferred to a platform trailer to be transported the remaining 400 miles to Clive, about 75 miles west of Salt Lake City.

“This project was a very complex undertaking that required approvals and/or coordination with over two dozen federal, state, and local agencies and government entities,” said Todd Eiler, director of the EnergySolutions Projects Group, which handled the transport. “The coordinated effort with the rail lines and departments of transportation in California, Nevada, and Utah resulted in another safe and successful large component shipment managed by the EnergySolutions Projects Group.”

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New report highlights nuclear supply chain opportunities

The London-based World Nuclear Association (WNA) on September 23 released The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2040, a market-oriented look at the opportunities and challenges for nuclear power plants and their supply chain, including scenarios for the evolution of nuclear energy over the next two decades.

The report provides information on nearly 300 major independent suppliers of nuclear-grade structures, systems, components, and services, as well as an up-to-date picture of ongoing and planned nuclear plant construction, decommissioning, and major refurbishment and waste management projects.

Feature Article

HPS's Eric Goldin: On health physics

Eric Goldin, president of the Health Physics Society, is a radiation safety specialist with 40 years of experience in power reactor health physics, supporting worker and public radiation safety programs. A certified health physicist since 1984, he has served on the American Board of Health Physics, and since 2004, he has been a member of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements’ Program Area Committee 2, which provides guidance for radiation safety in occupational settings for a variety of industries and activities. He was awarded HPS Fellow status in 2012 and was elected to the NCRP in 2014.

Goldin’s radiological engineering experience includes ALARA programs, instrumentation, radioactive waste management, emergency planning, dosimetry, decommissioning, licensing, effluents, and environmental monitoring.

The HPS, headquartered in Herndon, Va., is the largest radiation safety society in the world. Its membership includes scientists, safety professionals, physicists, engineers, attorneys, and other professionals from academia, industry, medical institutions, state and federal government, the national laboratories, the military, and other organizations.

The HPS’s activities include encouraging research in radiation science, developing standards, and disseminating radiation safety information. Its members are involved in understanding, evaluating, and controlling the potential risks from radiation relative to the benefits.

Goldin talked about the HPS and health physics activities with Rick Michal, editor-in-chief of Nuclear News.

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A last look at Fort Belvoir’s SM-1 reactor

A series of photos published by the Washingtonian on September 22 capture rarely seen images of Fort Belvoir’s SM-1 reactor, the U.S. Army’s first nuclear reactor and the first facility in the United States to provide nuclear-generated power to the commercial grid for a sustained period. These images may be some of the last photos of SM-1, as crews are set to begin decommissioning and dismantling the nuclear facility early next year.

House bill would create spent fuel R&D program at the DOE

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Units 1, 2 and 3. Photo: SoCal Edison

A bill introduced on September 21 by Rep. Mark Levine (D., Calif.) would direct the Department of Energy to conduct an advanced fuel cycle research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program. According to Levine, whose district includes the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), the Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Research and Development Act (H.R. 8258) is intended to foster innovation in the storage and disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

The program, which would be authorized at over $500 million over five years, would have the DOE investigate a variety of options for managing the storage, use, and disposal of spent fuel, including dry cask storage, consolidated interim storage, deep geological storage and disposal, and vitrification.

Two African nations join safety and security treaties at IAEA conference

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi and Teodolinda Coelho, Angola’s ambassador. Photo: IAEA

Grossi and Roger Albéric Kacou, Côte d’Ivoire’s ambassador. Photo: IAEA

Angola and Côte d’Ivoire deposited legal instruments with the International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this week, expressing their consent to be bound by treaties designed to strengthen nuclear safety and security.

On the sidelines of the IAEA’s 64th General Conference, Angola joined the Convention on Nuclear Safety and the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), as well as the latter’s 2005 amendment, while Côte d’Ivoire joined the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident and the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency.

Representing Angola and Côte d’Ivoire at the September 21 event were their respective ambassadors to Austria: Teodolinda Coelho and Roger Albéric Kacou.

“Critical decision” keeps Versatile Test Reactor on target

The proposed Versatile Test Reactor complex would cover about 20 acres. Image: INL

Now that the Department of Energy has approved Critical Decision 1 for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project, the engineering design phase can begin once Congress appropriates funding, according to a September 23 announcement from the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The DOE has requested $295 million for the project in fiscal year 2021.

The news came nearly one month after a team led by Bechtel National Inc. (BNI), and including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and TerraPower, entered into contract negotiations with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) for the design-and-build phase of the VTR. GEH’s sodium-cooled fast reactor PRISM technology was selected to support the VTR program in November 2018.

DOE begins transition to new Hanford cleanup contract

Hanford’s Central Plateau

Central Plateau Cleanup Company, the Amentum-led joint venture with Fluor and Atkins, has been cleared by the Department of Energy to begin a 60-day transition, starting on October 5, to the Central Plateau Cleanup Contract at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. As announced by Amentum on September 16, the company has received “notice to proceed” on the $10 billion, 10-year cleanup contract from the Department of Energy.

The DOE awarded the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to Central Plateau Cleanup in December 2019, replacing the plateau remediation contract held by CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company, a subsidiary of Jacobs.

NNSA assists in removal of HEU from Kazakhstan

The last remaining batch of unirradiated high-enriched uranium in Kazakhstan has been eliminated, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration has announced.

The action fulfills a pledge made by the United States and Kazakh governments one year ago at the 2019 International Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference, according to a September 22 NNSA news release.

TerraPower, Centrus, and Duke Energy talk tech and collaboration

Three companies that are part of a larger collaboration to develop and demonstrate Natrium, the fast reactor design recently introduced by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), were invited to participate in a webinar hosted by ClearPath to talk about Natrium’s design, fuel requirements, and load-following potential.

The September 21 webinar, titled “Natrium: Latin for Sodium, Big for Advanced Nuclear,” was moderated by Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath, and featured TerraPower’s Chris Levesque and Tara Neider, Centrus Energy’s Dan Poneman, and Duke Energy’s Chris Nolan.

Deloitte weighs in on achieving zero-carbon goals

The accounting firm Deloitte on September 21 issued a report on the decarbonization strategies of 22 utilities in the United States.

The 38-page report, Utility decarbonization strategies: Renew, reshape, and refuel to zero, is available online.

A summary of the report is available here.

DOE extends comment period on Hanford LAW document

The Department of Energy has extended until November 27 the public comment period on the Draft Waste Incidental to Reprocessing Evaluation for Vitrified Low-Activity Waste Disposed Onsite at the Hanford Site, Washington, which supports the DOE’s decision to dispose of vitrified low-level radioactive waste at an on-site disposal facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Notice of the comment extension was published in the September 22 Federal Register.

The DOE initially made the draft waste incidental to reprocessing (WIR) evaluation available in the May 26 Federal Register, opening a 120-day comment period. The DOE said it is extending the comment period an additional 60 days in response to requests.

NRC recommends over $7 million in R&D grants

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on September 21 that based on a review of 141 research and development grant proposals, it anticipates awarding more than $7.25 million in funding to 15 of the peer-reviewed proposals. The funding is part of the $16 million appropriated by Congress in fiscal year 2020 under the Integrated University Program.

While independent NRC review panels recommended the 15 R&D proposals for funding, the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research will make a final decision on the awards.