Comments requested on proposed EP rule

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is taking comments on its “Proposed Rule for Emergency Preparedness for Small Modular Reactors and Other New Technologies,” published in the Federal Register on May 12. The proposed rule and associated draft regulatory guide apply to non–light-water reactors and certain nonpower facilities.

Final major module for Vogtle-3 installed

The CB-20 module being installed at Vogtle-3. Photo: Georgia Power

A massive water tank has been placed atop the containment vessel and shield building roof at Vogtle-3, one of two AP1000 reactors currently under construction at Southern Company’s nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga. The installation represents the final module placement for the unit and marks the latest significant milestone to be reached at the Vogtle site.

Study: Advanced reactors a good fit for Puerto Rico

The Nuclear Alternative Project (NAP), a nonprofit group supporting the use of advanced reactors in Puerto Rico, has released the findings of a preliminary feasibility study undertaken to explore in detail the potential for these devices on the Caribbean island. The 288-page study, Preliminary Feasibility Study for Small Modular Reactors and Microreactors for Puerto Rico, was sponsored by the Department of Energy. The study concludes that small modular reactors and microreactors could be part of Puerto Rico’s energy portfolio and potentially supply a substantial part of a strong and diverse zero-emission energy mix.

Nuclear Technology publishes latest research on U.S. transient testing capability

View of the top of the TREAT reactor.

The Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility at Idaho National Laboratory was restarted in 2018 after being in safe standby mode since 1994. The June 2020 issue of the American Nuclear Society's Nuclear Technology (NT) journal features seven technical papers related to the benchmarking of the facility. Wade Marcum, a lead researcher on the project and guest editor of June’s NT issue, explained, “The goal of this effort was to understand, to the best of our ability, the expected response of the TREAT reactor upon its restart.”

Elettra designated an IAEA collaborating center

A collaborating center agreement was signed by Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and the International Atomic Energy Agency in May. The agreement focuses on advanced light sources and will support countries in research, development, and capacity building in the application of advanced and innovative radiation technologies.

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?

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.

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.

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 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).

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.

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).