ANS Nuclear Cafe

The ANS Nuclear Cafe is a blog owned and edited by the American Nuclear Society. Information contained on the ANS Nuclear Cafe has been provided by numerous sources. Therefore, the American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for the accuracy of information contained herein. DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

At Senate hearing, Markey attacks, Hanson defends

December 8, 2021, 9:36AMANS Nuclear Cafe


At an otherwise congenial Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight hearing held last week by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) made clear his strong disagreement with the agency’s November 3 decision to approve a proposed rule amending regulations for nuclear plants undergoing decommissioning.

“I fear the NRC now stands for Not Recognizing Concerns,” Markey said. “The NRC has decided that the best way to shield itself from criticism around the decommissioning process is to take itself out of the process. In the latest version of the proposed decommissioning rule, the NRC would have no ability to approve, no ability to change, no ability to deny plants’ decommissioning proposals, known as post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports. Its only job would be to acknowledge receipt of the report. Our independent nuclear safety regulator would serve as a glorified filing cabinet. Ceding the job of regulator to the nuclear industry itself is not a win for safety, communities, or for the energy sector.”

Students: Apply online now for 2022–2023 ANS scholarships

December 2, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The American Nuclear Society supports more than 50 college students each year through its Scholarship Program, awarding more than $140,000 annually. Applications for the 2022–2023 academic year are now available, and all ANS student members are encouraged to apply. Recipients will be awarded between $1,000 and $5,000, based on merit and financial need.

Save the VTR!

December 1, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Artist's rendition of the Versatile Test Reactor. (Source: DOE)

Study: New U.K. nuclear likely to be lower carbon source than solar or wind

November 30, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A recent study of life cycle carbon emissions at the United Kingdom’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant finds that the facility, now under construction in Somerset, England, is likely to produce less CO2 over its lifetime than either solar or wind power.

According to the 70-page analysis—prepared by environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment for NNB Generation Company HPC Limited, the holding company for the Hinkley Point project—lifetime emissions from Hinkley Point C are likely to be about 5.5g CO2e per kWh. That amount also holds for the proposed Sizewell C plant, the study concludes. (The two 1,630-MWe EPRs at Hinkley Point C are currently scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2026 and 2027.)

Environmental group reports rise in support for nuclear

November 22, 2021, 9:19AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new survey of Americans’ attitudes about energy by ecoAmerica, a Washington, D.C.–based environmental nonprofit, finds notable shifts in views on several energy sources, including nuclear energy, from 2018 to 2021.

The American Climate Perspectives Survey shows that national support for nuclear increased by 10 percentage points, from 49 percent to 59 percent. (The numbers reflect both strong and tepid backing.) Broken down by party affiliation, the survey shows Republican support holding steady at 64 percent, Independent support moving from 50 percent to 61 percent, and Democratic support rising, rather dramatically, from 37 percent to 60 percent.

Former NRC chairman Allison Macfarlane—nuclear agnostic or opponent?

November 17, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe



As noted by Newswire yesterday, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Allison Macfarlane describes herself as “agnostic” on the subject of nuclear energy. In the view of some, however, there is a more accurate way to describe Macfarlane’s nuclear stance.

In a November 15 blog post, Breakthrough Institute cofounder Ted Nordhaus suggests that Macfarlane can be considered a face of the modern antinuclear movement, the typical representative of which, he says, is not “a hippie with a No Nukes sign,” but rather “a highly credentialed progressive policy wonk, a lawyer, or academic, or journalist, who often claims not to be opposed to nuclear energy at all.”

Microsoft: Nuclear help wanted

November 17, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Microsoft, the America-based multinational technology corporation that produces computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services, is looking for a director of nuclear technologies engineering.

Published this week on LinkedIn, the job announcement states, “We are looking for a Nuclear Technologies Engineer to research methods of utilizing nuclear energy and design useful nuclear systems. You’ll monitor and report on engineering processes, including nuclear waste disposal and safety regulations. You will handle complex machinery and resolve on-site emergencies.”

The successful candidate can be based anywhere in the U.S., the announcement added.

Former NRC chairman talks nuclear with Al Jazeera

November 16, 2021, 12:14PMANS Nuclear Cafe



In an interview with Al Jazeera Digital, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman and self-proclaimed nuclear agnostic Allison Macfarlane said that untested advanced reactor designs and the high cost of building new power plants will limit nuclear’s ability to play a critical role in fighting the climate crisis, at least in the near future.

“Almost 19 percent of the power [in the United States] right now is produced by nuclear power. That’s carbon free. That’s really helpful. We don’t want to shut that off,” Macfarlane told Al Jazeera Digital’s managing business editor Patricia Sabga. “But I live in a pragmatic, realistic world. And I don’t think, at least in the next 10 or 20 years, that nuclear power will be able to have a big impact on reducing carbon emissions because we can’t build new plants fast enough.”

EPRI: U.S. “50 by 30” climate goal requires swift, economy-wide action

November 15, 2021, 3:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In April, President Biden announced a new U.S. climate target: a 50–52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2030. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that’s right up there with recent climate declarations from Canada, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. It’s also one that, according to a new analysis from the Electric Power Research Institute, will require immediate action across all sectors of the economy.

Key findings of the EPRI report Strategies and Actions for Achieving a 50% Reduction in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2030 include the following:

  • Halving GHG emissions by 2030 will involve significant efforts beyond business-as-usual trends.
  • Reaching implied decarbonization targets for the power sector involves accelerated and sustained change.
  • Electrification and efficiency gains drive GHG reductions in transport, industry, and buildings.
  • Consistent emission-reduction strategies for achieving the “50 by 30” goal are emerging, but fundamental questions remain about how to support immediate action while building systems for planning and investment that are adaptive to new information.

Entergy nuclear employee donates Rockefeller Center Christmas tree

November 15, 2021, 12:09PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Devon Price, Entergy Corporation’s nuclear fleet outage services director, works out of the company’s headquarters in Jackson, Miss. He and his family own property in Elkton, Md., which was where a stranger knocked on his front door. “He said he was an arborist and has a keen eye for gorgeous trees, and he asked if he could take a look at the Norway spruce behind the house,” Price recalled.

The request: No problem, Price said, and they went into the backyard to view the 79-foot tree with branches that spread to a 46-foot diameter at the base. Gradually, the man revealed who he was: Erik Pauzé, head gardener at Rockefeller Center in New York City.

“He said, ‘Ever hear of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree? What would you think of letting this one go?’” Price recalled. Pauzé explained that it would be a donation and “would be a pretty big deal,” Price said.

Build Back Better news

November 12, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

President Biden is expected to sign the recently passed $1.2 billion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which provides support for both existing and advanced nuclear, on Monday. However, the fate of its legislative companion, the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act—the other major component in the president’s ambitious domestic agenda—is far from certain.

DOE contractor wins awards for Savannah River Site videos

November 5, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
SRNS's Communications and Media Services Department was honored with two 2021 Telly Awards. Members of the department include, from left, Robin Adney, Ian Rojas-Godoy, Brad Bohr, Nathan Lester, Steve Ashe, and Laura Russo. (Photo: DOE)

Along with established entertainment mediums such as Jennifer Garner’s “Pretend Cooking Show” and the Nickelodeon TV channel, Department of Energy contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) has been named a winner in two categories of this year’s Telly Awards.

SRNS’s Communications and Media Services Department won a Gold Telly for the video “Savannah River Site Overview” in the non-broadcast, corporate image category, and a Bronze Telly for “SRNS Now: September 2020” in the non-broadcast, employee communications category.

GOP senators introduce their own energy and climate plan

November 4, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer speaks at a November 3 press conference announcing the American Energy, Jobs & Climate Plan.

A trio of Republican lawmakers from Western states—Sens. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), Kevin Cramer (N.D.), and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.)—held a press conference at the Capitol yesterday to announce the American Energy, Jobs & Climate Plan, a response to what they termed the “Biden-Kerry Green New Deal.” Also in attendance were fellow Republican senators Ted Cruz (Texas), John Kennedy (La.), and Rob Portman (Ohio).

The plan is “an innovative clean energy and climate strategy with the potential to reduce global [greenhouse gas] emissions by up to 40 percent from today’s levels by 2050 and create thousands of jobs for hard-working Americans,” according to a press release from Sullivan’s office.

In April, the Biden administration announced a target of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050, with an interim target of a 50–52 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2030.

COP26 and southern Scotland receive cleanest power in the U.K.

November 3, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear power provided about 70 percent of the electricity for the COP26 meeting in Glasgow on Tuesday, according to data from National Grid’s Carbon Intensity API.

Nuclear output from the Torness and Hunterston B power plants, supported by wind power, gave the southern Scotland region, which includes Glasgow, the lowest carbon electricity in the United Kingdom. Other parts of the country, which lack nuclear and renewable capacity, had to burn coal and gas to meet most of their electricity demand.

The Economist on nuclear: “France says it is green. Germany says it isn’t. France will win.”

November 3, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
(Source: Peter Schrank/The Economist)

“Where nuclear power was once a source of unity for Europe, today it is a source of discord.” So states The Economist’s October 30 “Charlemagne” column—a regular source of commentary on European politics in the weekly publication—before deftly dissecting nuclear power’s continental divide and picking a winner.

The man held responsible for the Chernobyl accident has died

November 2, 2021, 3:41PMANS Nuclear Cafe


Viktor Bryukhanov, the man blamed for the Chernobyl disaster, has died at age 85.

Bryukhanov was in charge of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine when the devastating accident occurred in 1986. Afterward, he was held responsible and was imprisoned.

Bryukhanov's death, on October 13 in Kiev, Ukraine, was announced by a representative of the now-closed nuclear plant, according to a report in the New York Times. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, in addition to having had several strokes following his retirement in 2015.

The sentencing: In 1987, Bryukhanov was found guilty of gross violation of safety regulations, creating conditions that led to the steam explosion that released a radioactive dust cloud into the atmosphere. Reports also mentioned that he failed to ensure correct and firm leadership in the difficult conditions of the accident and displayed irresponsibility and inability to organize. He was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp along with a five-year sentence for abuse of power, which ran concurrently.

Study finds major roles for Westinghouse microreactor in Canada

November 2, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
eVinci micro reactor core, (Illustration: Westinghouse)

A recently completed feasibility study by Westinghouse Electric Company and Bruce Power concludes that the eVinci microreactor is capable of providing cost-competitive clean energy to decentralized, off-grid markets in Canada.

Holtec touts advances in welding, NDE technologies

November 1, 2021, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Holtec International said its manufacturing specialists continue to bring forth new welding and weld examination technologies. The company recently highlighted three “landmark achievements” that are transforming its manufacturing program.

In addition to manufacturing spent nuclear fuel storage and transportation casks, Holtec provides products and services to the nuclear industry, including nondestructive examination of in-service reactor components. The company is also developing its own small modular reactor, the SMR-160.

Radioisotopes: The unseen infrastructure

October 29, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear CafeMatt Reiter

What is one thing that bridges, oil wells, and cancer treatment therapies have in common? Reliance on radioisotopes. Radioisotopes have played an important role in our society for decades, yet their benefits often go unrecognized. As Congress makes progress on new bipartisan infrastructure legislation, radioisotopes are essential to bringing new infrastructure projects to life.

NWMO champions diversity at WiN Global Conference

October 28, 2021, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Attendees at the 2021 Women in Nuclear Global Conference, held virtually October 17–21, had the opportunity to learn from nuclear professionals from around the world, including from the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), the group responsible for designing and implementing Canada’s plan for the long-term management of spent nuclear fuel.