HALEU investment is key part of TerraPower’s demo proposal

TerraPower announced on September 15 that it plans to work with Centrus Energy to establish commercial-scale production facilities for the high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) needed to fuel many advanced reactor designs.

The proposed investment in HALEU fuel fabrication is tied to a TerraPower-led submittal to the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), which was created to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs within five to seven years. TerraPower would like one of those designs to be Natrium, the 345-MWe sodium fast reactor that it has developed with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

ECA launches “new nuclear” initiative

The board of directors of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization known more for its work in advancing the cleanup of Department of Energy sites, is launching a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of new nuclear technologies. As announced by the ECA on September 15, the self-funded, one-year initiative will focus on small modular reactors, micro and advanced reactors, a skilled nuclear workforce, and new nuclear missions around DOE facilities. facilities.

“With growing bipartisan support for nuclear energy in Congress, new federal demonstration projects led by DOE and the Department of Defense, and notable investment from the private sector, local governments want to be meaningfully engaged—and prepared—to match the strengths and needs of our communities with new nuclear opportunities,” the ECA said in its announcement.

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New report explores value of flexible nuclear energy in clean energy systems

A report just released from the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM) Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE) Future initiative examines the potential roles that flexible nuclear energy generation can play in both current and future clean energy systems.

A product of the initiative’s Flexible Nuclear Campaign for Nuclear-Renewables Integration, the 154-page report, Flexible Nuclear Energy for Clean Energy Systems, includes the views of experts from government agencies, ministries, and industry organizations across the globe.

The report uses the term “flexibility” to mean the ability of an energy source to economically provide services when and where they are needed by end users. Energy services can include both electric and nonelectric applications using both traditional and advanced nuclear power plants and integrated systems, according to the report.

Hitachi pulls plug on Wales nuclear build project

Artist's concept of the Wylfa Newydd project. Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. today announced that it is withdrawing from the currently suspended Wylfa Newydd nuclear-build project in northwestern Wales. The announcement dashes the hopes raised last month by reports that Horizon Nuclear Power, the Hitachi subsidiary in charge of the project, was in talks with the U.K. government regarding a possible resuscitation.

Hitachi had put the project on hold some 20 months ago, and in today’s announcement the company cited the length of the suspension and the COVID-19 investment environment as factors in its decision.

Cost of Magnox D&D has increased by up to 45 percent

The U.K.’s Bradwell Magnox site after being placed in “care and maintenance."

The National Audit Office (NAO) of the United Kingdom reported on September 11 that the total cost of the work needed to put the country’s Magnox nuclear sites into “care and maintenance” has increased by up to an estimated £2.7 billion (about $3.5 billion) since the office’s last estimate in 2017. The NAO, which scrutinizes U.K. public spending, released its findings in a report examining the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) management of a renegotiated decontamination and decommissioning contract with Cavendish Fluor Partnership.

Black racial justice webinar kicks off DIA series

The Diversity and Inclusion in the American Nuclear Society (DIA) Committee opened its new series of webinars on September 2 with a panel discussion, “Black Racial Justice in the Nuclear Community.”

During the webinar, which was viewed by more than 200 people, five panelists discussed racial justice issues and their own experiences throughout their lives. Included on the panel were Warren “Pete” Miller, former Department of Energy assistant secretary for nuclear energy; Michelle Scott, DOE senior advisor; Charlyne Smith, PhD candidate at the University of Florida; Ira Strong, legacy engineer at the Palo Verde plant in Arizona and a student at the University of New Mexico; and Sola Talabi, senior consultant at Pittsburgh Technical.

ANS’s Bilbao y León picked to lead World Nuclear Association

Bilbao y León

ANS member Sama Bilbao y León, currently head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics at the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, will succeed Agneta Rising as the World Nuclear Association’s director general, the WNA announced this morning.

Rising, who took the reins of the WNA in January 2013, is the former vice president, environment, at Vattenfall AB; cofounder and former president of Women in Nuclear; and former president of both the European Nuclear Society and Swedish Nuclear Society. The WNA said that she is stepping down at the end of October “to move to new endeavors.” Rising will continue as director general until the end of October, with Bilbao y León serving as “director general in waiting” beginning October 5.

Department of Commerce, Rosatom sign draft amendment to uranium agreement

The U.S. Department of Commerce and Rosatom on September 12 initialed a draft amendment extend the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation, signed in 1992. Rosatom is Russia’s state atomic energy corporation.

Should the amendment receive final approval, it will extend the agreement to 2040.

ANS distinguished service award renamed to honor Levenson

Levenson

Thanks to a generous donation from Margaret S. Y. Chu, a member of the American Nuclear Society since 2000, the ANS Distinguished Service Award will now honor Milton Levenson, ANS past president (1983–1984) and Fellow who died in 2018. Chu’s career path intersected with Levenson many times over a 13-year span through their work as consultants. Following his death, Chu wanted a way to honor the man she described as “an extraordinary scientist who dedicated over 70 years of his life to nuclear energy.”

ASLB adds conditions to Seabrook license amendment

An ASLB calls for closer scrutiny of concrete degradation at Seabrook.

An Atomic Safety and Licensing Board has rendered its decision on a challenge to a license amendment concerning concrete degradation—known as alkali-silica reaction, or ASR—at the Seabrook nuclear power plant, upholding the amendment but imposing four additional conditions. The board found the new conditions to be necessary to provide adequate protection of public health and safety, according to a September 11 Nuclear Regulatory Commission press release. (The ASLB is the NRC’s independent body charged with conducting adjudicatory hearings and deciding legal challenges to the agency’s licensing and enforcement actions.)

The challenge to NextEra Energy’s license amendment for Seabrook was brought in 2017 by the C-10 Research and Education Foundation, an opponent of license renewal for the New Hampshire facility, which houses one 1,248-MWe four-loop pressurized water reactor.

Special committee holds first hearing on H.B. 6

Some two weeks after its creation, the Ohio House Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight held its first hearing on September 10 to consider a potential repeal of the Ohio Clean Air Program Act (H.B. 6).

H.B. 6 is the sweeping energy law that includes subsidies for the state’s two nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry, and that is currently at the center of an alleged $61-million corruption scheme aimed at guaranteeing its passage.

Newly elected Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp (R., Dist. 4)—who replaced Rep. Larry Householder (R., Dist. 72) as speaker following the latter’s July 21 arrest as the scheme’s alleged ringleader—announced the committee’s creation in late August. Cupp stated that its goal is “repealing House Bill 6 and replacing it with thoughtful legislation Ohioans can have confidence in.”

The committee’s initial hearing, however, focused only on efforts to immediately repeal the measure. Proponents of two repeal bills—one backed by Republicans (H.B. 746) and one by Democrats (H.B. 738)—argued their positions, with some displaying greater rhetorical gifts than others.

ANS designates TFTR and FCF for landmark status

A look inside the TFTR plasma vessel. Photo: DOE

The Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) at Princeton University and the Fuel Cycle Facility (FCF) (now known as the Fuel Conditioning Facility) at Idaho National Laboratory have been designated as ANS Nuclear Historic Landmarks. The official awarding of the honors will occur during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting, which begins November 16.

The TFTR received the award for demonstrating significant fusion energy production and tritium technologies for future nuclear fusion power plants and for the first detailed exploration of magnetically confined deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion plasmas.

INL’s FCF and its Experimental Breeder Reactor II (EBR-II) were honored for demonstrating on-site recycling of used nuclear fuel back into a nuclear reactor.

IAEA Director General reports to agency's board

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi delivering his opening statement to the IAEA Board of Governors. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, delivered a statement on September 14 to the agency’s Board of Governors during a meeting in Vienna, Austria.

Grossi briefed Member States on nuclear verification and monitoring in Iran. He explained that he had met with President Rouhani during a visit to Iran and that they had reached agreement on the resolution of the safeguards implementation issues raised by the IAEA.

UK reactor desk to get a second act in the film industry

The inspection desk in use at Sizewell A.

A piece of British nuclear history may be coming to a movie theatre (or streaming service) near you. The United Kingdom’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) sold, at auction, a reactor in-core inspection desk to an Oxford-based film studio known to have been involved with productions such as World War Z, Iron Man 2, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The inspection desk, which was used to remotely check conditions deep inside the gas-cooled reactors at Sizewell A nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England, received a high bid of £10,200 (about $13,000), according to a September 7 press notice from Magnox Ltd., the NDA company responsible for the cleanup of the U.K.’s former Magnox reactors. The desk was last used in 2005, just before the site stopped generating electricity.

Feature Article

Harnessing the promise of radiation: The art of reasonableness

Radiation has benefited mankind in many ways, including its use as an energy source and an indispensable tool in medicine. Since the turn of the 20th century, society has sought ways to harness its potential, while at the same time recognizing that radiological exposures need to be carefully controlled. Out of these efforts, and the work of many dedicated professionals, the principles of justification, optimization, and limitation have emerged as guiding concepts.

Justification means that the use of radiation, from any radiation source, must do more good than harm. The concept of optimization calls for the use of radiation at a level that is as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). Dose constraints, or limitation, are meant to assist in reaching optimization and protection against harm by setting recommended numerical levels of radiation exposure from a particular source or sources. Together, these three principles form the bedrock of the international radiation protection system that drives decision-­making and supports societal confidence that radiation is being used in a responsible manner.

Hanford nears another cleanup goal

Hanford’s largest groundwater treatment plant, the 200 West Pump and Treat Facility, removes tons of chemical and radioactive contaminants from more than 2 billion gallons of groundwater each year. Photo: DOE/OEM

Fiscal year 2020 marks the sixth consecutive year that the Hanford Site, in southeastern Washington State, has treated more than 2 billion gallons of groundwater to remove contamination from decades of past operations to produce plutonium for the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

The goal this fiscal year, which ends September 30, is to treat at least 2.4 billion gallons, the Department of Energy reported on September 8.

Tianwan-5 ready for commercial operation

Unit 5 at the Tianwan nuclear plant. Photo: CNNC

Unit 5 at the Tianwan nuclear power plant completed its full-power continuous operation assessment on September 8, meeting the conditions for commercial operation, China National Nuclear Corporation reported. The domestically designed ACPR-1000 pressurized water reactor will become CNNC’s 22nd reactor to provide power to China’s electric grid, raising the CNNC fleet’s installed capacity from 19.112 million kilowatts to 20.230 million, according to the company.

Tianwan-5 construction officially commenced on December 27, 2015, with the pouring of safety-related concrete. China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration issued a 40-year operating license for the unit on July 7 of this year, and two days later CNNC announced that first fuel loading had been completed. The reactor achieved initial criticality on July 27 and connected to the grid on August 8. Once commercial operation of the unit has begun, Tianwan will boast five operating reactors.