When a nuclear plant closes

Theresa Knickerbocker, the mayor of the village of Buchanan, N.Y., where the Indian Point nuclear power plant is located, is not happy. What has gotten Ms. Knickerbocker’s ire up is the fact that Indian Point’s Unit 2 was closed on April 30, and Unit 3 is scheduled to close in 2021. The village, population 2,300, is about 1.3 square miles total, with the Indian Point site comprising 240 acres along the Hudson River, 30 miles upstream of Manhattan. Unit 2 was a 1,028-MWe pressurized water reactor; Unit 3 is a 1,041-MWe PWR.

The nuclear plant provides the revenue for half of Buchanan’s annual $6-million budget, Knickerbocker told Nuclear News. That’s $3 million in tax revenues each year that eventually will go away. How will that revenue be replaced? Where will the replacement power come from?

Feature Article

Thinking inside the box

The Optimus-H transport cask on display at the 2020 Waste Management Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.

Jeff England, director of transportation projects for NAC International, pointed to the large stainless steel canister, which looked like a giant-­sized silver dumbbell, perched on the flatbed of a semitrailer truck parked in the middle of the expansive exhibit hall in the Phoenix Convention Center. NAC, a provider of nuclear storage, transportation, and consulting services, was using the 2020 Waste Management Conference, held March 8–12 in Phoenix, Ariz., to unveil its newest transport casks, the Optimus-­H and Optimus-­L.

“These are a different niche,” England said of the casks, which were designed to transport radioactive materials, including remote-­handled transuranic waste, high-­activity intermediate-­level waste, low-­enriched uranium, and fissile materials. “You have a lot of [small] drum-­sized packages, and you also have a lot of big packages that will hold around 10 55-­gallon drums. But there’s not anything in between. We hold a 110-­gallon drum capacity.”

ENEC completes key test for Barakah-4

The UAE's Barakah nuclear power plant in 2019. Photo: ENEC

Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has completed cold hydrostatic testing at Unit 4 of the Barakah nuclear power plant, the Arab world’s first such facility, located in Abu Dhabi. According to a May 19 ENEC press release, the testing incorporated lessons learned from the plant’s three other units and is a crucial step toward Unit 4’s completion. All four units are 1,345-MWe APR1400 pressurized water reactors. Abu Dhabi is the capital city of the United Arab Emirates.

Sponsored Content

Lead Lined Cabinets Custom Designed for Your Needs

By Paul Rochus , MarShield

Lead lined cabinets are utilized across a wide variety of industries including hospitals, nuclear medicine and the nuclear power industry. Some of the applications of shielded cabinets are for storing radioisotopes, radioactive waste, and providing shielding while operating x-ray tubes and protecting sensitive electronic devices from external radiation damage.

ARPA-E projects to receive $27 million in DOE grants

The Department of Energy is awarding $27 million in funding for nine projects through the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy’s (ARPA-E) Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program. These projects will work to develop digital twin technology to reduce operations and maintenance (O&M) costs in the next generation of nuclear power plants in order to make them more economical, flexible, and efficient, according to the DOE.

The Nuclear News Interview

Scott Dempsey: Casks and containers for the nuclear industry

Scott Dempsey is the senior vice president of waste management business development for EnergySolutions, a nuclear services company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Dempsey has 29 years of experience in nuclear power plant waste operations, as well as in commercial waste processing, packaging, transportation, and disposition. He has received all relevant Department of Transportation, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, radiological, and other industry certifications required for handling and disposition of wastes. Dempsey holds a bachelor’s degree in finance, and his previous experience includes management positions at F.W. Hake Associates, Duratek Inc., and MHF Services.

EnergySolutions has operations across the United States, Canada, and Japan. The company provides services to commercial utilities and U.S. and Canadian governments and laboratories. Its work includes decommissioning nuclear power plants and safely containing, transporting, recycling, processing, and disposing of nuclear material.

Dempsey talked about the company’s cask and container activities with Nuclear News Editor-in-Chief Rick Michal.

Lawmakers urge NRC to expedite advanced reactor rulemaking

A bipartisan group of senators is calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to accelerate the completion of a rulemaking that would establish a technology-inclusive regulatory framework for advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

In a May 15 letter to NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki, Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.), Mike Crapo (R., Idaho), and Cory Booker (D., N.J.) note that the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (NEIMA)—signed into law by President Trump in January 2019—requires the NRC to, among other things, complete a rulemaking to license and regulate these technologies no later than December 31, 2027.

Letter from the CEO

Making the best of the "new normal"

Craig Piercy


Dear ANS Members,

In the midst of a global pandemic, it feels insufficient somehow to begin a letter with the oft-used expression of hope that it “finds you well.” We are all affected by COVID-19 in some way that makes us less “well” in our lives, whether caused by the virus itself or the socioeconomic ramifications of our response to it. Perhaps it is more realistic for me to hope that you and your family are healthy, generally well-provisioned, and gainfully occupied as we all, collectively and individually, find a way to make the best of our “new normal.”

Vogtle-3 integrated head package set in place

Vogtle-3’s integrated head package. Photo: Georgia Power

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power has placed the integrated head package (IHP) atop the Unit 3 reactor vessel at the Vogtle nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga., marking the latest major milestone in the construction of the first new U.S. nuclear reactors in more than 30 years.

DOE issues FOA for advanced reactor demos

Reactor designers and others ready to invest in advanced nuclear technology now have a defined route to apply for cost-share funding, including $160 million in initial funding to build two reactors at Idaho National Laboratory within the next five to seven years. On May 14, the U.S. Department of Energy issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP).

President's Column

Staying positive

Marilyn Kray

What can be said that hasn’t already been said about these “uncertain times”? There are numerous mottos and catchphrases out there. I choose to follow this one: “Stay home. Stay positive.”

I’ve been staying home, which is quite a change for me since I spent over half of the first two months of 2020 traveling. It all came to a screeching halt in early March. Working remotely is not that different for me, as I’m used to working in hotels and on planes. The biggest difference is that when my husband walks by and I order a Diet Coke and extra pretzels, he doesn’t respond like an American Airlines flight attendant!

Uncertainties with WTP persist, GAO says

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has not followed best practices or DOE policy in pursuing alternatives for pretreating radioactive tank waste at the Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash., according to a report released on May 12 by the Government Accountability Office. The DOE has spent over $400 million since 2013 looking into alternatives to pretreating Hanford’s low-activity waste (LAW), yet the department has not properly defined a mission need or a life-cycle cost estimate for its preferred alternative, according to the report.

Bill introduced to protect critical electric infrastructure

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) and James Risch (R., Idaho) have introduced legislation to bolster safeguards for U.S. critical electric infrastructure. Dubbed the Energy Infrastructure Protection Act, the bill updates provisions in the Federal Power Act and restricts federal disclosures of certain sensitive energy information.

Feature Story

The nexus between safety and operational performance

Nuclear power plant performance includes both operational and safety aspects and is an outcome of numerous elements, such as the reliability of equipment, reduction in challenges to plant operations, protection of workers, and proficiency of operations. These elements are inextricably linked to each other and to the safety of each facility. In short, a well-run plant is a safe plant for the workers and the public, and a well-run plant is an efficient plant. By-products of high performance include improved regulatory performance, worker safety, plant reliability, and, most important, public health and safety.

Oak Ridge developing 3D-printed nuclear reactor core

3D-printed components for the prototype reactor. Photo: Britanny Cramer/ORNL/U.S. Department of Energy

A 3D-printed nuclear reactor core prototype being developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a step toward reaching the goal of creating an advanced, full-sized, 3D-printed reactor by 2023 at the lab.

IAEA COVID-19 project draws more than $28 million in funding

A health worker at the IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratories in Austria packs a COVID-19 support equipment package, which includes personal protective equipment, PCR machines, reagents, and laboratory consumables. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

An initiative by the International Atomic Energy Agency to help nearly 120 countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic has received a financial boost from member states and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

The IAEA announced on May 13 that Takeda, a biopharmaceutical company based in Tokyo, donated 500 million yen (about US$4.7 million). Two days earlier, the IAEA announced that pledges from more than 10 member nations totaled €22 million (about US$23.8 million).

Department of Energy launches $230 million Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the launch of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) within the Office of Nuclear Energy. ARDP is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the U.S.