DOE prepares for construction of Savannah River’s final waste disposal units

August 18, 2022, 12:02PMRadwaste Solutions
Crews begin clearing the site on which Savannah River Site’s SDU 10 will sit. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced that it is preparing for construction of the final three planned saltstone disposal units (SDUs) at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which will complete the site’s liquid waste mission.

The SRS liquid waste contractor, Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), is overseeing the construction of the SDUs, which will receive decontaminated salt solution treated at Savannah River’s Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF).

NWTRB to hold public meeting on the disposal of spent fuel in clay

August 18, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) announced it will hold a public meeting on September 13–14 to review information on Department of Energy research and development activities related to the geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in clay-bearing host rocks and R&D on clay-based engineered barriers. The hybrid (in-person/virtual) meeting will begin on both days at 12:00 p.m. EDT and is scheduled to adjourn at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT.

The NWTRB is an independent federal agency that provides ongoing, objective evaluation of the technical and scientific validity of activities undertaken by the DOE related to implementing the Nuclear Waste Police Act.

Why Japan’s response to Fukushima radiation failed while Utah’s response succeeded

August 18, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Aboveground atomic bomb test at the Nevada Test Site while troops look on. These clouds of material often wafted over to Utah during the 1950s. (Photo: NNSA)

In 1953, the United States detonated above­ground nuclear weapons during tests at the Nevada Test Site. In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown occurred in Japan. Both events spread radioactive material over many miles and over population centers. Neither event resulted in any adverse health effects from that radiation.

But the response to the Fukushima event was disastrous because of the irrational and misinformed fear of radiation. That fear—not radiation—killed at least 1,600 people and destroyed the lives of at least another 200,000. That fear seriously harmed the entire economy of Japan, stopped cold the fishing industry and other agriculture in that area, and, overnight, reversed the country’s progress in addressing climate change.

The U.S. tests spread two to three times more radiation than did the events of Fukushima over the people of Utah, particularly the town of St. George. Like with Fukushima, no one was hurt, there was never any increase in cancer rates, and no one died as a result. But in Utah, the economy and people’s lives were unaffected. Why was there such a different result?

Germany’s nuclear decision: Hold the confetti for now

August 17, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany.

For the few members of the nuclear community who haven’t already been made aware, the Wall Street Journal yesterday published a story headlined “Germany to Keep Last Three Nuclear Power Plants Running in Policy U-Turn.” According to the WSJ, the German government plans to postpone retirement of the plants—all of which had been slated for closure by the end of 2022—fearing an inadequate energy supply this winter.

Energy Harbor launches 24/7 compliance product for EFECs

August 17, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new “24/7 emission-free energy compliance product” is now being used by Energy Harbor to meet the needs of customers who must validate that the energy they consume throughout the day is free of carbon emissions. The power company, based in Akron, Ohio, plans to use the product to provide the emission-free energy credits (EFECs) for its Beaver Valley nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania and the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants in Ohio—potentially more than 32 million credits every year.

Newsom proposes $1.4 billion loan to keep Diablo Canyon running

August 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

There is still a chance for California’s last remaining nuclear power plant to stay open.

Last Friday, more than 50 nuclear advocates testified in support of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at a California Energy Commission workshop. Many spoke of the need for California to shore up its electricity grid in the face of coming heat waves and power outages. Others emphasized that closing the plant, which generates 2.2 GW of electricity and currently provides 8.6 percent of the state’s total supply and about 15 percent of its low-carbon electricity, would be devastating to California’s emission-reduction goals.

Canada adds one year to its repository site selection process

August 17, 2022, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
Ontario’s South Bruce area is being considered as a potential host site for a spent fuel repository. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is shifting the timing for selecting a preferred site for a spent nuclear fuel repository to the fall of 2024, a full year later than previously planned. The NWMO, a nonprofit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s spent fuel in a deep geological repository, said the delay is the result of several provincial lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korean firms invest $250 million in TerraPower

August 16, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

U.S. nuclear technology company TerraPower announced yesterday the close of a $750 million equity raise—one of the largest advanced-nuclear investment drives to date, according to the announcement—with $250 million of that contributed by South Korean firms SK Inc. and SK Innovation.

Both firms are subsidiaries of the Seoul-based conglomerate SK Group, South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, after Samsung Group.

Feedback requested on draft FY23 Consolidated Innovative Nuclear Research program

August 16, 2022, 12:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) has unveiled the fiscal year 2023 draft version of its Consolidated Innovative Nuclear Research (CINR) program with a series of recent webinars. The new CINR program is dramatically different from that of previous years, incorporating many suggestions that had been offered by the nuclear community through the request-for-information process.

Trust is the coin of the realm

August 16, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

It is often said that in Washington, “trust is the coin of the realm.” Of course, you can be forgiven for thinking these days that trust in politics is an outmoded concept—that the only coin of the realm today is, well, “coin.” But you would be wrong.

Behind the facade of political polarization and tribalism there still exists a genuine desire to make good policy. Of course, each side of the ideological spectrum will always have their preferred set of solutions, and those solutions will usually be “spiced” by the parties’ respective “bases.” But I never cease to be surprised by how much undetected common ground exists on practical matters.

During the last six months, in partnership with the bipartisan U.S. House Advanced Reactor Caucus, I have had the honor of moderating monthly Jeffersonian dinners on Capitol Hill with members of Congress and leaders from across the nuclear profession. If you are not familiar with the format, a Jeffersonian dinner requires that there be one single conversation at the table around a posed central question, such as, “Is nuclear energy overregulated?” or “Should the U.S. recycle its nuclear fuel?”

Public support for nuclear energy is highest among plant neighbors

August 16, 2022, 7:04AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Ninety-one percent of residents living near U.S. nuclear power plants have a favorable impression of those plants, according to Bisconti Research’s ninth biennial survey. In addition, 88 percent of those residents have positive opinions of nuclear energy in general, and 78 percent would support the addition of a new reactor at their neighboring plant—a number that increases to 86 percent if the new reactor is a small modular reactor.

Purdue and Duke Energy introduce a nuclear lecture series

August 15, 2022, 3:13PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The new Understanding Tomorrow’s Nuclear Energy lecture series, sponsored by Purdue University and Duke Energy, premieres on August 30. The first scheduled speaker, Arden L. Bement Jr., professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at Purdue, will deliver a talk titled “Clean Nuclear Energy: Past, Present, and Future.”

Register now. Participants can attend the event, from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. EDT, either in person or virtually. The presentation will be delivered in the Stewart Center Fowler Hall on Purdue’s campus in West Lafayette, Ind. Advance registration is required for this free lecture.

What’s it about: The series will feature community leaders speaking on the feasibility of using advanced nuclear technologies to meet the long-term zero-carbon energy goals of the West Lafayette campus. It is designed to appeal to everyone, from nuclear industry experts to community residents with a general interest in the topic.

Accusations and dire warnings swirl over Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

August 15, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Rafael Mariano Grossi, the IAEA's director general, addresses the UN Security Council via video link on August 11. (Photo: IAEA)

Contradictory accusations concerning the artillery shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in war-torn Ukraine continue to be made by the Ukrainians and Russians. Both sides have acknowledged several hits on the facility, including 10 artillery strikes on the plant’s administrative office and fire station on August 11. As the two countries blame each other for the attacks, independent authorities have been unable to verify the opposing claims.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the UN Security Council, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned that the situation was in “a serious hour, a grave hour.” UN secretary general António Guterres added that it could “lead to disaster.”

Congress passes climate bill with tax credits and more for nuclear

August 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

After hours of debate alternating between Democratic praise for the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and Republican denunciation of it, the House of Representatives late Friday passed the sweeping energy, tax, and health care package in a straight party-line vote, 220–207. Its passage represents a significant win for President Biden, who is expected to sign the bill into law this week.

The boldly named $430 billion measure includes $369 billion in energy security and climate spending, with nuclear energy included among the beneficiaries.

Hanford prepares to empty waste from single-shell tank

August 15, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers will soon begin retrieving about 373,000 gallons of waste from Tank AX-101, shown here in an image from an inspection video shot. (Photo: DOE)

Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is preparing to retrieve waste from Tank AX-101 at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. WRPS is the tank operations contractor at Hanford.

Next for nuclear: Energy arbitrage

August 12, 2022, 3:16PMNuclear NewsMatt Wald
Research being done at INL’s Energy Systems Laboratory is providing information on how nuclear power plants can contribute to effective energy storage and discharge, to aid in arbitrage. (Photo: INL)

Can nuclear power plants prosper in the grid of 2030 or 2035, when new wind and solar farms will make electricity prices even more volatile? Can plants install energy storage that will help them keep running at full power, 24/7, to ride out times of surplus and sell their energy only when prices are high?

Pact signed to advance IMSR development in western Canada

August 12, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News

Evidence that Canada is serious about becoming a world leader in small modular reactor deployment continues to mount. Ontario-based SMR developer Terrestrial Energy yesterday inked a memorandum of understanding with Invest Alberta—a crown corporation of the government of Alberta that promotes the province internationally—to support commercialization of the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) in western Canada.

Students graduate from SRNS/Aiken Tech nuclear apprenticeship program

August 12, 2022, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The third cohort of the Nuclear Operator Apprenticeship Program was recognized in a ceremony at Aiken Technical College. (Credit: SRNS)

Twenty-three students in the third cohort of the Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Nuclear Operator Apprenticeship Program graduated recently following their completion of the Nuclear Fundamentals Certificate curriculum at Aiken Technical College (ATC) in South Carolina. The class was the largest ever of operator apprentices to graduate from the program. Those graduates who meet all employment requirements are eligible for hire at the Savannah River Site.

Deep Isolation to license its waste disposal technology to Amentum

August 11, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Schematic of a deep horizontal borehole repository for nuclear waste. (Image: Deep Isolation)

Deep Isolation announced that it has signed a memorandum of agreement with engineering services company Amentum to further the commercialization of Deep Isolation’s nuclear waste storage and disposal technology around the world. The initial targets for joint work include locations in Europe and the Pacific that represent a combined market for geologic disposal of spent fuel and high-level waste worth more than $30 billion, the company said.