Sen. Manchin urges Biden to preserve U.S. nuclear fleet

April 20, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News


Highlighting nuclear’s role in providing reliable power, reducing emissions, and addressing climate change, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) sent a letter to President Biden, urging him to support the continued operation of the United States’ civil nuclear fleet and prevent further plant closures. Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that preventing the closure of existing nuclear power plants is critical to achieving emission reduction goals while ensuring a reliable grid.

Another Canadian province signs on for SMR development

April 20, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at an online event on April 14, after signing an agreement on small modular reactor development. Photo: Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has added his signature to a memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor development that was signed in 2019 by the premiers of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Kenney signed the document last week at a virtual event that also promoted the release of Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada—a study formally requested as part of the MOU.

GA’s Christina Back: U.S. “absolutely needs to be in cislunar space”

April 20, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Image: DARPA

The U.S. Department of Defense is aiming to demonstrate a novel nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) system above low Earth orbit by 2025. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced on April 12 that following a competitive solicitation process, it has awarded a contract to General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) for the design of the nuclear reactor that will power the Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO). Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin will work on a parallel track to design a spacecraft tailor-made to demonstrate the NTP system.

N.Y. drops its objections to sale of Indian Point in deal with Holtec

April 19, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

The State of New York will withdraw its lawsuit against the transfer of Indian Point’s license to Holtec International for decommissioning under a provisional agreement signed on April 14. In exchange, Holtec has agreed to maintain a minimum of $400 million in Indian Point’s decommissioning trust fund for the next 10 years.

Brookhaven lab names new nuclear and particle physics directorate lead

April 19, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News


Haiyan Gao, currently the Henry W. Newson Distinguished Professor of Physics at Duke University, will join the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory as associate laboratory director for Nuclear & Particle Physics starting on or about June 1, 2021.

Details: Gao, who has a long history in nuclear physics, will help develop BNL’s collective long-term vision for the next 10 years. She’ll also work across the laboratory and beyond to craft its emerging expertise at the future Electron-Ion Collider, a one-of-kind nuclear physics research facility that will be built at the lab over the next decade.

Consultant recommends subsidies for Exelon plants

April 16, 2021, 2:59PMUpdated April 19, 2021, 10:56AMNuclear News
The Byron nuclear plant is currently slated for permanent closure in September. Photo: Exelon

A research and consulting firm hired by Illinois governor J. B. Pritzker’s administration to scrutinize the financial fitness of Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants approves of limited state subsidies for the facilities, according to a redacted version of the firm’s report made available yesterday.

Dickman sheds light on Fukushima wastewater issue during CNBC interview

April 19, 2021, 9:29AMANS News


Paul Dickman, former senior official with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who served as the study director for the ANS Special Committee on the Fukushima Daiichi accident, discussed Japan’s plans to dispose of Fukushima wastewater during an appearance on CNBC’s Street Signs Asia with hosts Amanda Drury and Tanvir Gill on April 16.

Appearing on the show as an ANS spokesman, Dickman assured the hosts that there will be no negative environmental impact from releasing the advanced liquid waste processing system (ALPS)-treated water into the Pacific Ocean. “The Japanese government has done an extraordinary effort to mitigate any harm that would be from the release of this water,” Dickman said. “Frankly, they’ve diluted it to such an extent that it would hardly be detectable above background (radiation).”

Missouri mulls nuclear development measure

April 19, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Missouri has only one nuclear power plant, Ameren Missouri’s single-unit Callaway facility. State Rep. John Black (R., 137th Dist.) doesn’t think that’s enough.

Black’s H.B. 261, introduced earlier this year after a similar version failed to make headway in 2020, would create the Missouri Nuclear Clean Power Act, aimed at fostering the development of nuclear power in the state. Under the bill, companies that build clean baseload generating plants or renewable-source generating plants rated at 200 MW or more would no longer be prohibited from charging for construction costs before beginning operation.

Making emergency planning zones smarter: a risk-informed approach for new reactors

April 16, 2021, 2:52PMNuclear NewsCurtis Smith, Koroush Shirvan, Jason Christensen, and Kurt Vedros

The health and safety of the public and protecting people from the consequences of a significant release of radioactive material has been a top priority since the early days of the civilian nuclear energy program. After World War II, it was realized that the core inventory of radionuclides is a potential hazard. From this knowledge, emergency planning zones (EPZs) for nuclear power plants were established.

Shrinking Y-12 will facilitate cleanup, reduce costs, DOE says

April 16, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Federal and contractor officials participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for the WEPAR project on April 7 at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. Photo: DOE

A project to reduce by approximately half the high-security protected area at the Department of Energy’s Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will avoid millions of dollars in costs and accelerate cleanup, the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced.

The New Republican podcast features ANS policy guru John Starkey

April 16, 2021, 7:02AMANS News


ANS government relations director John Starkey was a recent guest on the podcast The New Republican. Starkey discussed a range of topics with podcast host Lincoln Wallis in the 30-minute episode, “All Things Nuclear.”

“In 2020, nuclear energy became the second-largest source of electricity in the United States,” Starkey said in response to Wallis’s first question, adding, “That would entail nearly 20 percent of electric generation in the U.S. Nuclear energy has also operated at 90 percent capacity rate for the past 20 years or so. No other source of electricity can touch those [capacity] numbers.… I really see [nuclear energy] being a leader in decarbonization in the country and the world.”

Solar-powered microblowers remove SRS soil contaminants

April 15, 2021, 3:07PMRadwaste Solutions
SRNS engineers (from left) Will Jolin, John Bradley, and Joao Cardoso-Neto discuss a plan to move and repurpose equipment used at 19 soil cleanup sites. Photo: DOE

A project to passively remove nonradioactive contaminants from the soil and groundwater at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina is coming to an end, as workers prepare to remove solar-power “plugs” from 19 soil remediation locations at the site.

OIG: Risk-informed concept can be better applied to SNF licensing

April 15, 2021, 12:08PMRadwaste Solutions
The NRC-licensed independent spent fuel storage installation at Zion, Ill.

How the Nuclear Regulatory Commission collects information in the licensing of spent nuclear fuel can be improved by a better understanding of the concept of risk-informed decision making, according to a report, Audit of the NRC’s Use of Requests for Additional Information in Licensing Processes for Spent Nuclear Fuel (OIG-21-A-08), by the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

Next decade of DOE cleanup outlined in updated strategic vision

April 15, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
A radiological worker surveys the inside of a TRUPACT-II containment lid during waste handling operations at WIPP. Photo: DOE

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has released its Strategic Vision 2021-2031 (hereinafter referred to as the 2021 Strategic Vision), a blueprint to the cleanup program’s anticipated accomplishments over the next decade. The new strategic vision updates EM’s previous report, A Time of Transition and Transformation: EM Vision 2020-2030, released in March of last year.

DOE touts a MARVEL of a microreactor project

April 15, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
An image from a video released by INL shows MARVEL, to be installed in a concrete pit within the TREAT reactor building. Source: INL

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy is spreading the word about plans to build a tiny microreactor called the Microreactor Applications Research Validation & EvaLuation (MARVEL) project inside Idaho National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility and have it in operation within the next three years. INL recently released a video that describes how MARVEL could help researchers and industry partners test, develop, and demonstrate the integration of a microreactor’s heat and electricity output with other technologies.

Optimism reigns during final plenary of 2021 ANS Virtual Student Conference

April 14, 2021, 3:04PMANS News

The future of nuclear technology is bright and affords ample opportunities for today’s students to make an impact. That was the message given by the three plenary panelists on Saturday, April 10, during the final day of the 2021 ANS Virtual Student Conference. The three-day event was hosted by North Carolina State University and had nearly 500 registered attendees.

Registered attendees can view the entire session on demand.

Isotopes hold clue to travel plans of migrating butterflies

April 14, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Scientists studied the migration of six butterflies (from top left to bottom right): American Snout butterfly, Queen butterfly, Cloudless Sulphur butterfly, Empress Leilia butterfly, Variegated Fritillary butterfly, and Southern Dogface butterfly. (Composite photo: IAEA; photo credits: S. Bright, V. Charny, J. Gallagher, J. Green)

While scientists can tag migrating birds, mammals, and other animals to track their movements, the precise migration patterns of butterflies and other insects too small for tagging evaded scientists’ scrutiny for decades. That changed in 1996, when Leonard Wassenaar and Keith Hobson, working at the time as isotope scientists for Environment Canada, demonstrated that isotopic techniques could be used to determine the origin of individual monarch butterflies and deduce the species’ annual migration routes. Now, the same technique is being used to study other butterfly species.

A matter of perspective: Unleashing the power of particle physics

April 14, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn in their lab in Germany in 1913.

Comparing matter to a “lush tapestry, woven from a complex assortment of threads,” physics writer Emily Conover traces the evolution of our understanding of the atom over the past century in the recent Science News article, “How matter’s hidden complexity unleashed the power of nuclear physics.” Conover uncovers how our vision of matter changed from that of a “no-nonsense plaid” to one of an “ornate brocade,” ultimately transforming nuclear physics from an arcane academic pursuit to something that forever changed the world.