Nuclear News

Published since 1959, Nuclear News is recognized worldwide as the flagship trade publication for the nuclear community. News reports cover plant operations, maintenance and security; policy and legislation; international developments; waste management and fuel; and business and contract award news.


Illinois lawmakers try one more time to save imperiled nuclear plants

August 31, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

Yesterday morning with about two weeks to go before the scheduled permanent closure of Illinois’s Byron nuclear power plant, state Sen. Michael Hastings (D., 19th Dist.) filed a proposal to end the state legislature’s stalemate on a clean energy package that would, among other things, provide financial aid to Byron, as well as to other endangered nuclear power facilities in the state, via a carbon mitigation credit program.

NRC may step up scrutiny of Vogtle project

August 31, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (left) and -4 in June. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Oversight of the Vogtle nuclear new-build project will be increased if the preliminary conclusions in an August 26 Nuclear Regulatory Commission special inspection report are finalized.

Conducted from June 21 to July 2, the inspection looked into the cause and extent of construction-quality issues in the safety-related electrical cable raceway system at Vogtle-3.

Sandia expands software billed as “Swiss Army knife” of nuclear system safety

August 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Sandia's Brad Beeny (left) and Larry Humphries examine remnants from a series of lower head failure experiments. Results from these and other experiments are used to inform nuclear accident modeling computer code. (Photo: Randy Montoya)

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have been expanding MELCOR—the severe accident modeling computer code used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the safety of light water reactors—to study the small modular reactors and non-light-water advanced reactors that are under development. An article published in Sandia Lab News on August 27 describes in detail how MELCOR is being expanded to work with different reactor geometries, fuel types, and coolant systems.

Court finds no breach of contract in failed Bellefonte sale

August 30, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Bellefonte nuclear power plant (Photo: TVA)

A federal court last week sided with the Tennessee Valley Authority in its legal dispute with Nuclear Development LLC over the proposed sale of the unfinished Bellefonte nuclear power plant. The court, however, also ordered the utility to refund millions to Nuclear Development over the aborted transaction.

Second unit at UAE’s Barakah plant starts up

August 30, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The UAE’s Barakah-2 (Photo: FANR)

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation has announced the startup of Unit 2 at the Barakah nuclear power plant, located in the Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital city.

The milestone, ENEC noted in its August 27 announcement, was achieved approximately one year after the startup of the plant’s Unit 1 reactor and within five months of Unit 1’s entering commercial operation.

NorthStar awarded $37 million for Mo-99 production

August 30, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
NorthStar’s RadioGenix system produces the medical radioisope Mo-99 without the use of uranium. (Photo: NorthStar)

NorthStar Medical Technologies of Beloit, Wis., will receive $37 million under two cooperative agreements with the National Nuclear Security Administration for the production of molybdenum-99 without the use of high-enriched uranium. Considered a critical medical radioisotope, Mo-99 is used in more than 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day, including the diagnosis of heart disease and cancer.

Innovations in instrumentation and controls from the Transformational Challenge Reactor program

August 27, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsSacit Cetiner, Christian Petrie, Venugopal Varma, Nathan See, and Eliott Fountain

The Transformational Challenge Reactor (TCR) program was launched in 2019 to demonstrate that highly improved, efficient systems can be created rapidly by harnessing the major advances in manufacturing, materials, and computational sciences that have emerged since the end of the first nuclear era. The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory leads the TCR program, which includes contributing partners from other DOE national laboratories and the U.S. nuclear industry. The program leverages some of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers and draws from ORNL’s lengthy history, institutional knowledge, and capabilities in high--performance computing, materials science development, advanced manufacturing techniques, and nuclear science and engineering.

U.K. presents plan for hydrogen economy

August 27, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

The U.K. government last week announced the release of its UK Hydrogen Strategy, predicting thousands of jobs and billions of pounds in investment and export opportunities over the coming decades via the creation of a low-carbon hydrogen sector in Britain.

A flourishing, U.K.-wide hydrogen economy could be worth £900 million (about $1.2 billion) and create over 9,000 high-quality jobs by 2030, according to the government, potentially rising to 100,000 jobs and worth up to £13 billion (about $18 billion) by 2050.

Group exhorts Belgium to rethink nuclear phaseout

August 26, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Engie Electrabel’s four-unit Doel nuclear plant, in East Flanders, Belgium. Units 1, 2, and 4 are to be closed in 2025; Unit 3 is to be shuttered in 2022. (Photo: Torsade de Pointes)

A pronuclear think tank in Belgium has written a letter to the country’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, urging him to reevaluate the government’s plan to phase out nuclear power generation by 2025 and replace it with gas power.

Former NNSA chief joins Westinghouse

August 25, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Gordon-Hagerty

Westinghouse Electric Company has appointed Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, former head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, to the board of directors for Westinghouse Government Services (WGS), the company announced yesterday. WGS is the delivery platform for Westinghouse’s nuclear technologies and services for government programs globally.

As the lead director for strategic programs at WGS, Gordon-Hagerty will help the company with continued strategy and development of programs to support Department of Energy and Department of Defense nuclear decommissioning, security, and energy goals, according to the announcement.

Kinzinger urges Biden to save Illinois plants from early closure

August 24, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Kinzinger

With a note of desperation, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R., Ill.) yesterday wrote a letter to President Biden and several top administration officials, asking them to consider the use of emergency powers to keep two Illinois nuclear power plants, Byron and Dresden, in operation, at least until state or federal laws are enacted to ensure their financial viability.

On June 16, the plants’ owner and operator, Exelon Generation, filed a deactivation notice for the two Byron units with grid operator PJM Interconnection. The requested deactivation dates for Byron-1 and -2 are September 14 and 16, respectively.

Exelon announced in August of last year that it would close the economically challenged Byron and Dresden facilities in the fall of 2021 without some form of state aid to provide compensation for their clean power.

Coalition: N.Y. should add non-renewables program to clean energy standard

August 24, 2021, 7:09AMNuclear News

A coalition of power companies and labor unions has filed a petition with the New York Public Service Commission (PSC), calling for a new program or tier under the state’s clean energy standard to encourage the development of zero-emission dispatchable energy systems.

U.S. Nuclear Nexus created to guide exporters of advanced nuclear technology

August 23, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Companies, universities, and national laboratories across the United States are working together to develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear technologies. To deploy those technologies on a global scale and maximize U.S. efforts to combat climate change, technology developers eyeing the export market must navigate rules and recommendations designed to ensure that international safeguards, security, and nonproliferation standards are met. Understanding and, where appropriate, integrating these standards early in the development process is crucial for streamlining export and technology deployment.

Former Westinghouse exec charged with conspiracy, fraud over Summer fiasco

August 23, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Benjamin

A federal grand jury has indicted a former Westinghouse Electric Company executive for allegedly concealing information regarding progress (or, more accurately, lack of progress) on the now defunct multibillion-dollar expansion project at the Summer nuclear plant.

Jeffrey A. Benjamin, who served as Westinghouse’s senior vice president for new plants and major products during the effort to build two AP1000 reactors at the Jenkinsville, S.C., facility, has been charged with 16 felony counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud, securities fraud, and causing a publicly traded company to keep a false record, according to an August 18 news release from the U.S. States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $5 million fine.

Starting a new era of nuclear innovation with Argonne’s Activated Materials Lab

August 20, 2021, 4:14PMNuclear NewsChristina Nunez
This rendering shows the Activated Materials Laboratory (AML), to be constructed as part of the Advanced Photon Source upgrade that includes the High-Energy X-ray Microscope (HEXM) and the In Situ Nanoprobe (ISN). This new facility will simplify the process of researching nuclear materials. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

The lack of a specialized laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) has slowed efforts to study irradiated materials at the facility. Things will change soon, however, with the addition of the new Activated Materials Laboratory that is planned to be built and operational by 2024.

Nine Mile Point picked for hydrogen demonstration project

August 20, 2021, 4:08PMNuclear News
Nine Mile Point (Photo: Constellation Energy)

Exelon Generation has received a grant from the Department of Energy to explore the potential benefits of on-site hydrogen production and has chosen its Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant as the demonstration site, the company announced on Wednesday. (In 2019, Exelon received a conditional commitment from the DOE to co-fund a hydrogen electrolyzer demonstration at a nuclear plant.) Located in Scriba, N.Y., Nine Mile Point consists of two boiling water reactors—the 620-MWe Unit 1 and the 1,287-MWe Unit 2.

Rewriting the script: The real story of advanced reactors

August 19, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
The EBR-II sodium fast reactor at Idaho National Laboratory began operations in 1964 and generated electricity for decades. Soon it will serve as a National Reactor Innovation Center test bed for future advanced reactor demonstrations. (Source: ANL)

At the box office or streaming at home, it’s fear, not truth, that sells. The laws of physics are swept aside, apocalypse is inevitable, and superpowered heroes wait until the last possible second to save the universe. It can make for great entertainment, but in the real world we need to stick with science over science fiction and be wowed by engineering, not special effects.

The truth is, science and innovation are incredible in their own right. From communications and machine learning to space travel and medical advances, technology is evolving in hyperdrive to solve real problems. With climate change and global warming here on earth, we don’t have to go looking for trouble in a galaxy far, far away.

CNSC, NRC complete joint report on the Xe-100 SMR

August 19, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have completed the first collaborative project under a two-year-old memorandum of cooperation (MOC) aimed at enhancing technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies, the CNSC announced earlier this week.

The project, a 23-page joint report from the regulators on a white paper submitted last July by X-energy regarding reactor pressure vessel (RPV) construction code specifications for the company’s Xe-100 SMR, was released to the public on August 6. The Xe-100 is an 80-MWe unit that can be scaled into a “four-pack” 320-MWe power plant, according to X-energy.

Oak Ridge museum opens Alvin Weinberg’s personal archives to the public

August 19, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Weinberg

Alvin M. Weinberg, a founder, Fellow, and fifth president (1959–1960) of the American Nuclear Society, was a Manhattan Project physicist who studied at the University of Chicago before building a celebrated career in Oak Ridge, Tenn., where he influenced the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in the United States. Weinberg’s personal files tell the story of his decades of work in Oak Ridge from the 1940s to the 1980s, and the Alvin Weinberg Archive Project was created to digitize the archive, ensuring that it would be accessible to researchers and the public.

A place in time: Weinberg arrived in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in 1945, and soon became head of the Physics Division of Clinton Laboratories. In 1948, the laboratory was renamed Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Weinberg was appointed director of research, a role he held until 1955, when he was named laboratory director. In 1974, Weinberg moved 17 file cabinets from ORNL to Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU), where he founded the Institute for Energy Analysis (IEA) and served as its director until his retirement in 1985. Under Weinberg’s guidance, the IEA studied atmospheric carbon dioxide and its effect on global warming, as well as alternative energy sources.