Hanford completes wastewater basin work to support tank waste treatment

October 26, 2021, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
An aerial view of Hanford’s Liquid Effluent Retention Facility Basin 44 with its new cover installed. (Photo: DOE)

Record-breaking heat and the vast size of the job did not stop the Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection and its tank operations contractor, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), from completing a construction project critical to the Hanford Site’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste program for treating radioactive tank waste.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission

October 26, 2021, 12:06PMNuclear NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

Depending on where you reside on this nuclear technology world of ours, you may care a great deal, or not at all, about who happens to be sitting on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at any given point in time. If you live on the Department of Energy continent or the Academia continent, it’s probably not a big deal. If you are on the Nuclear Power Plant Operator continent or the Vendor continent (which are actually part of the same landmass), it is quite important. If you are on the NRC island, it’s huge.

The NRC comprises five presidentially appointed, U.S. Senate–confirmed commissioners who are commonly referred to as “the Commission,” and approximately 3,000 federal employees referred to as the staff. The Commission oversees the NRC staff; together, they license and regulate the nation’s civilian use of radioactive materials to provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection of public health and safety. The president of the United States designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman, the principal executive officer of and the official spokesperson for the agency.

Germany could save 1 billion tons of CO2 by 2045, says study

October 26, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News

“The price of anti-nuclear psychosis (for that is what it is) will be paid by vulnerable countries and future generations who suffer the escalating damages of climate breakdown,” writes environmentalist and author Mark Lynas in the foreword to a new study, One Billion Tons: CO2 Reductions and a Faster Coal Exit in Germany. “This report puts numbers on this price to be paid for the first time—a nice round number of a billion tons.”

According to Lynas, the billion tons is the “opportunity cost” of the German government’s plan to shutter its remaining nuclear power plants by 2022 while keeping its coal plants going until 2038. (Three of those plants, Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen, are scheduled to close later this year.)

Protein shows potential to accelerate cancer therapy research and application

October 25, 2021, 3:05PMNuclear News
LLNL and Penn State researchers developed a new approach to study and purify medical isotopes, including actinium. (Image: Thomas Reason/LLNL)

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Pennsylvania State University have demonstrated that a natural protein found bonded to rare earth elements can be recovered and used as a tool to purify and effectively manage radioactive metals that show promise for cancer therapy and the detection of illicit nuclear activities.

RFP issued for Hanford’s integrated tank disposition contract

October 25, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued a final request for proposal (RFP) for the Hanford Integrated Tank Disposition Contract, a 10-year, $45 billion deal to oversee waste tank operations at the DOE’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Proposals are due by December 20.

Georgia Power again pushes back Vogtle project start dates

October 25, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Vogtle-4 containment as it appeared last month. Photo: Georgia Power

In what has become for nuclear advocates an all-too-familiar refrain, Georgia Power has made another revision to the Vogtle nuclear expansion project schedule. The company now predicts a Unit 3 in-service date in the third quarter of 2022 and a Unit 4 in-service date in the second quarter of 2023, representing a three-month shift for each unit.

Microreactor planned for U.S. Air Force base in Alaska

October 25, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
An F-35A Lightning II takes off from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska on July 1, 2021. (Photo: U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Jose Miguel T. Tamondong)

The Department of the Air Force has selected Eielson Air Force Base as the site of a stationary microreactor that “will provide the installation with a clean, reliable, and resilient nuclear energy supply technology for critical national security infrastructure,” the department announced on October 15.

Inspecting nuclear facilities with unmanned aerial systems

October 22, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsMonica Rivera Garcia

Over the past decade, unmanned aerial systems (UASs), more commonly referred to as drones, have played an increasing role in the day-to-day activities of the energy sector. Applications range from visually inspecting wind turbines, flare stacks, pipelines, and facilities to evaluating vegetation encroachment near power lines. Although the benefits of UASs have been reported in these industries, their use in the nuclear community has only recently been explored. For instance, a drone was sent into a waterbox at a Duke Energy facility to inspect for leaks.1 And at Fukushima Daiichi, a drone was used to conduct a post-accident radiation survey inside Unit 3, and drones are being investigated for use inside the damaged containments.2

New model improves understanding of how heat moves through fusion plasmas

October 22, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Physicist Suying Jin with computer-generated images showing the properties of heat pulse propagation in plasma (Image: PPPL/Jin/Kiran Sudarsanan)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a new model of how heat flows within plasmas. According to PPPL, the model could improve insights into the behavior of plasmas and may help engineers avoid the conditions that could lead to heat loss in future fusion facilities.

DOE awards $50 million cost share for Limerick I&C modernization

October 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Limerick nuclear power plant. (Photo: Arturo Ramos)

The Department of Energy is providing $50 million in a cost-sharing project with Exelon Generation to digitalize the control room at the company’s Limerick nuclear power plant, the department announced yesterday. Once implemented, the facility will house the first fully digital safety system upgrade at a U.S. nuclear power plant.

DOE and EPA agree on further cleanup work at Hanford’s 100-BC Area

October 22, 2021, 7:14AMRadwaste Solutions
The 100-BC Area (in green) within the Hanford Site. (Image: DOE)

Soil and groundwater contamination at the Hanford Site’s 100-BC Area will be treated under a record of decision (ROD) signed by the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, with the concurrence of the Washington State Department of Ecology.

IAEA provides a must-read for COP26 attendees

October 21, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Doubtless with the intention of influencing some of the many nuclear agnostics expected at next week’s COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the International Atomic Energy Agency last week released Nuclear Energy for a Net Zero World.

According to the 73-page report, nuclear power is key to achieving the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring a 24/7 energy supply, which provides stability and resilience to electrical grids and facilitates the wider integration of variable renewables, such as wind and solar, needed to drive the clean energy transition.

Former NRC chairman joins Southern Company board

October 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Svinicki

Kristine Svinicki, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has joined the board of directors of Southern Company. Southern announced her election as an independent director on Monday. She joins the board’s Business Security and Resiliency Committee, as well as its Operations, Environmental, and Safety Committee.

“As the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Kristine brings to Southern Company a wealth of experience advising energy policy at the federal and state levels,” said Southern chairman, president, and chief executive officer Tom Fanning. “Kristine’s knowledge of and expertise in nuclear technologies will be invaluable as we pursue the full range of energy resources. Moreover, Kristine’s insight into the energy challenges of tomorrow places Southern Company in a prime position to serve customers, communities, employees, and stockholders well into the future.”

Colorado county looking at SMRs to replace coal

October 21, 2021, 7:16AMNuclear News

The expected early retirement of a massive coal plant in Pueblo County, Colo., has the county commissioners mulling small modular reactors as a power source replacement.

The plant in question is Xcel Energy’s three-unit Comanche Generating Station, Colorado’s largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, Xcel received approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to retire Units 1 and 2 in 2023 and 2025, respectively. And earlier this year, the company filed a proposal to close the much newer Unit 3 in 2039—three decades earlier than expected. (Xcel also plans to run the unit at only 33 percent, beginning in 2030.) Meanwhile, environmental groups have been pushing for the closure of Unit 3 by the end of the decade.

Ensuring a role for nuclear in the response to climate change

October 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear NewsRichard Meserve

Richard Meserve

Nuclear power is an important tool in the response to climate change, and advanced reactors may offer advantages over existing plants in providing carbon-free generation at the scale necessary to respond to the existential challenge that climate change presents. The International Atomic Energy Agency is aggressively addressing issues related to the possible transition to advanced reactors. This letter is to urge a redoubling of effort by Member States to put in place the necessary capabilities to deal with the challenges that they present.

Animation depicts Hanford’s direct-feed waste treatment process

October 20, 2021, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot from Hanford’s DFLAW animation. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has released an animated video of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. The video shows the integrated procedure for treating Hanford’s radioactive tank waste, a process EM says is a key component of its strategic cleanup vision.

View the animation here.

Canada and South Korea to cooperate on spent fuel research

October 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
In a virtual ceremony, CNL and KHNP signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on spent CANDU fuel research. (Image: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) intend to leverage data collected over decades on the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel to help inform decision-making on future spent fuel storage, transportation, and disposal activities.

European ministers to EC: “We need nuclear”

October 20, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. (Image: Sébastien Bertrand)

Sixteen ministers from 10 European Union member states argue for adding nuclear energy to the EU taxonomy in a joint letter published last week in leading European newspapers and sent to the European Commission.