LA Times asks, “How safe is the water off SONGS?”

A California surfer. Photo: Brocken Inaglory/Wikicommons

The Los Angeles Times published an article on December 1 about a recent collaboration between the Surfrider Foundation and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution to determine how safe the water is off the coast of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).


ANS leaders’ op-ed urges New York Gov. Cuomo to keep Indian Point-3 operating

Dunzik-Gougar

Piercy

The scheduled premature shutdown of Indian Point-3 will all but guarantee a massive increase in fossil fuel use, according to an op-ed written by American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy that was published in the New York Daily News on November 30.

Indian Point-3 is slated to be shut down in April 2021, four years before its operating license expires.

Why I’ll be getting a COVID-19 vaccine

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the American Nuclear Society.

I should state up front that I am not an expert in matters of dealing with communicable diseases, although like most of us, I am much more knowledgeable in the area than I was a year ago.

In COVID-19, the world is dealing with a disease that has killed more than a quarter-million Americans in less than a year and, when all is said and done, will have led to the deaths of millions worldwide. Beyond the immediate fatalities, there are the aftereffects on the health of survivors and immensely adverse economic, psychological, and social impacts on the human race. It doesn’t even stop there—other species on our planet are similarly impacted. It’s not quite Stephen King’s The Stand or a zombie apocalypse, but “it could be worse” is cold comfort when you look at the reality of the situation. Like everyone, I have experienced indirectly the effects of COVID-19. I have lost friends and colleagues to the disease, but fortunately, so far, no close family members.

Baranwal reviews virtual STEM lessons for U.S. tribal communities

Baranwal

In a blog post to the Department of Energy’s website on November 23, Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, commended recent virtual lesson projects from the Office of Nuclear Energy and the Nuclear Energy Tribal Working Group to increase STEM opportunities for Native American tribes.

The spotlighted lesson discussed in the article focused on a 3D-printed clip that turns a smartphone or tablet into a microscope with the ability to magnify items by 100 times. The Office of Nuclear Energy shipped nearly 1,000 of these microscope clips to students across the country, many of them going to U.S. tribal communities.

Is proximity key to understanding interactions on the nuclear scale?

An MIT-led team found that the formulas describing how atoms behave in a gas can be generalized to predict how protons and neutrons interact at close range. Image: Collage by MIT News. Neutron star image: X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI)

In an MIT News article playfully titled “No matter the size of a nuclear party, some protons and neutrons will always pair up and dance,” author Jennifer Chu explains that findings on the interactions of protons and neutrons recently published in the journal Nature Physics show that the nucleons may behave like atoms in a gas.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology–led team simulated the behavior of nucleons in several types of atomic nuclei using supercomputers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory. The team investigated a range of nuclear interaction models and found that formulas describing a concept known as contact formalism can be generalized to predict how protons and neutrons interact at close range.

Bloomberg: Stanford prof a front runner to lead Biden DOE

Majumdar

Arun Majumdar, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University and former vice president for energy at Google, is a leading contender for secretary of energy in a Biden administration, according to a November 12 Bloomberg story.

Chosen on November 10 to lead Biden’s Department of Energy transition team, Majumdar was also the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-–Energy (ARPA-E), serving in that role from 2009 to 2012. Bloomberg quotes Jeff Navin, director of external affairs at TerraPower, as saying, “He had as good relationships with Republicans as he did with Democrats as the first director of ARPA-E, and he took the time to get to know key legislators personally.”

Opinion: U.K. power stations could make hydrogen, heat homes, and decarbonize industry

Nuclear reactors have evolved to achieve more than just electricity generation and should be part of the U.K.’s plan to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Photo: Royal Society, authors provided

The United Kingdom needs to start rebuilding its capacity to generate nuclear power, according to an opinion article published Wednesday on The Conversation by two members of the U.K.-based Bangor University faculty.

Bill Lee, a professor of materials in extreme environments, and Michael Rushton, a senior lecturer in nuclear energy, argue that the plan by the Committee on Climate Change, which advises the U.K. government on the effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, is “strangely silent on nuclear power.”

BBC: U.K. government may be close to greenlighting Sizewell C

Artist’s rendering of the Sizewell site, with Sizewell C at right. Image: EDF Energy

A BBC News story from late last week states that the U.K. government “is close to giving the green light” to EDF Energy’s proposed Sizewell C nuclear new build project in Suffolk, adding that details surrounding the project’s financing “are still being hammered out.”

The Sizewell C station, consisting of twin European pressurized reactors (EPRs), would be built next to Sizewell B, a 1,198-MWe pressurized water reactor that began operation in 1995. (The Sizewell site also houses Sizewell A, a 290-MWe Magnox gas-cooled reactor, but that unit was permanently shuttered in 2006.) Sizewell C would be a near copy of the two-unit Hinkley Point C station, currently under construction in Somerset.

A life in nuclear reactor physics and design

You may have read the abbreviated version of this article in the November 2020 issue of Nuclear News. Now here's the full article—enjoy!

I have enjoyed a long and stimulating career in applied nuclear physics—specifically nuclear reactor physics, nuclear fusion plasma physics, and nuclear fission and fusion reactor design—which has enabled me to know and interact with many of the scientists and engineers who have brought the field of nuclear energy forward over the past half-century. In this time I have had the fortune to interact with and contribute (directly and indirectly) to the education of many of the people who will carry the field forward over the next half-century.

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Outgoing WNA leader: Cross bridges that divide us

Rising

Agneta Rising, outgoing director general of the World Nuclear Association, wrote in an October 27 World Nuclear News article that nuclear power is an essential part of the climate change solution, even if it is not part of the conversation in the European Union. “In many ways, the future of nuclear energy is much brighter than it has been for many years. We are evermore recognized and valued for the unique services that nuclear energy offers humanity, and I am immensely proud to have served and led our industry through these exciting times," said Rising in a farewell message that recapped her time as WNA director general.

Uranium mining settlement could fund new cleanup industry

The Santa Fe New Mexican, in its October 24 edition, reported on a study by the University of New Mexico’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research that found that the state could use money from a nearly $1- billion federal mining settlement to create a new industry around the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines in the Southwest.

Yucca Mountain is not dead, Shimkus says

Shimkus

For more than two decades, one of the country’s biggest champions of the Yucca Mountain Project has been Rep. John Shimkus (R., Ill.), who is retiring from Congress this year. Shimkus spoke with E&E News about how he is not ready to give up on the Nevada repository in an article posted to the energy and environment news organization’s website on October 20.

“It’s never dead,” Shimkus said. “It’s the law of the land."

To fight climate change, accept nuclear energy

“The world needs a mix of renewable power sources, including one that can carry on producing power when the others can’t—the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow,” British journalist Jonathan Gornall writes in an opinion piece posted Wednesday on the Asia Times website. Gornall argues that the residents of Suffolk County in the United Kingdom would be better served by the expansion of the Sizewell nuclear power plant than by leaving a wooded area untouched.

It’s time for the United States to demonstrate advanced reactors

After talking about it for decades, the United States is finally ready to take the next step in demonstrating advanced reactor technologies.

We have the bipartisan support from Congress. We have the best innovators in the world. Now it’s time to see what U.S. nuclear companies can really do with the support and resources of the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Energy is all in on new nuclear technologies and we just made our boldest move yet—selecting and supporting two U.S. reactor designs that will be fully operational within the next 7 years.

After evaluating the competitive U.S. reactor design applications that were submitted to our new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program funding opportunity announcement, TerraPower LLC and X-energy were awarded $160 million in initial funding to test, license, and build their advanced reactors under this aggressive timeframe. Pending future appropriations by Congress, the DOE will invest $3.2 billion over 7 years in these projects that will be matched by the industry teams.

A national security argument for U.S. leadership on nuclear power

A recent commentary from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy—the second in a series by the center’s Matt Bowen titled “Why the United States Should Remain Engaged on Nuclear Power”—examines the geopolitical and national security implications of the United States’ relinquishing the international nuclear energy marketplace to China and Russia.

IAE, IAEA warn that climate challenge would be much harder without nuclear

Birol

Grossi

“Given the scale and urgency of the climate challenge, we do not have the luxury of excluding nuclear from the tools at our disposal,” the leaders of the International Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in an op-ed article posted on the CNN website last Friday.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IAE, and Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the IAEA, said that the COVID-19 crisis not only delivered an unprecedented shock to the world economy, it also underscored the scale of the climate challenge the world faces: Even in the current deep recession, global carbon emissions remain unsustainable.

Nuclear cogeneration concept gets royal treatment in new report

The future of nuclear energy is in cogeneration, according to a policy briefing released on October 7 by the United Kingdom’s Royal Society. (The equivalent of the United States’ National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society, founded in 1660, is the oldest scientific institution in continuous existence.)

Cogeneration, the briefing explains, occurs when the heat produced by a nuclear power plant is used not only to generate electricity, but also to meet such energy demands as domestic heating and hydrogen production. It also allows a plant to be used more flexibly, switching between electricity generation and cogeneration applications.

Popular Mechanics takes the wind out of renewables study

A wind farm in East Sussex, England, is flanked by 400-kV power lines from the Dungeness nuclear power plant. Photo: David Iliff/Wikimedia Commons

A paper out of the University of Sussex that correlates the carbon output of 123 countries with their nuclear power programs has received a critical look from Popular Mechanics, which takes to task some of the researchers’ premises in an article by Caroline Delbert.

In the paper, the researchers make the claim that nuclear and renewable energy programs do not tend to coexist well together in national low-carbon energy systems but instead crowd each other out and limit effectiveness. Delbert, however, points out that suggesting that nuclear power plants don’t play a significant role in reducing carbon emissions is “wild and baseless.”