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.


PRISMAP: A European network for medical radioisotope production and research

October 1, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A conceptual image of collaboration across Europe. (Image: PRISMAP/SCIPROM)

Only a few of the more than 3,000 radioisotopes that scientists have synthesized in the laboratory are regularly used in diagnostic or therapeutic medicine. One significant barrier to the development of new medical radioisotopes is the difficulty of gaining access to radionuclides during the early stages of development and research. PRISMAP is a new medical radionuclide program designed to streamline that access for medical research in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

PJM’s modified MOPR takes effect, boosting nuclear’s competitiveness

October 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Map of the PJM Interconnection territory in dark blue. Image: PJM

A proposal by PJM Interconnection to modify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s contentious minimum offer price rule (MOPR) order went into effect by default on Wednesday after the commission failed to take action on it.

According to a notice from the FERC secretary, “In the absence of commission action on or before September 28, 2021, PJM’s proposal became effective by operation of law. Accordingly, the effective date of the proposed tariff sheets is September 29, 2021. The commission did not act on PJM’s filing because the commissioners are divided two against two as to the lawfulness of the change.”

Byron, Dresden to receive nine-digit investments

September 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Workers perform maintenance during Byron’s refueling outage. (Photo: Exelon)

Exelon Generation announced yesterday that it is investing more than $300 million in capital projects at its Byron and Dresden nuclear plants in Illinois over the next five years and filling some 650 vacant positions across the state.

These actions are in response to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent signing of S.B. 2408, the hard-won legislation that rescued the nuclear facilities from premature retirement.

NRC agrees to review SLR application for St. Lucie reactors

September 30, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The St. Lucie nuclear power plant.

Florida Power and Light Company is seeking to keep its St. Lucie nuclear plant in operation into the 2060s, and so far, so good: In early August, the utility submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a subsequent license renewal application for the facility’s two units, and last Friday, the NRC accepted the application for review.

Oak Ridge community meets a future neighbor: Hermes

September 29, 2021, 2:51PMNuclear News
Explore Kairos Power’s plans in a virtual open house.

By 2030, Kairos Power aims to demonstrate electricity production from a full-scale, 140-MWe fluoride salt–cooled high-temperature reactor, the KP-X. In service of that goal, Kairos plans to demonstrate Hermes, a scaled-down 35-MWth nonpower reactor, in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Hermes is being built to “prove our ability to deliver affordable nuclear heat,” said Mike Laufer, Kairos Power chief executive officer and cofounder, as he explained Kairos’s plans to the local community during a September 28 webinar now available to view on demand. Laufer took questions, and Kairos took the opportunity to introduce a virtual open house that visitors can tour to view videos and interactive features and even submit comments.

Bruce Power receives regulatory approval to produce medical Lu-177

September 29, 2021, 9:27AMNuclear News
The Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada. (Photo: Bruce Power)

Bruce Power has received approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to begin the production of lutetium-177, becoming the first power reactor globally to commercially produce the medical radioisotope. Isogen, a joint venture between Framatome and Kinectrics, will produce Lu-177 at Bruce’s eight-unit CANDU nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada, using Isogen’s isotope production system (IPS).

Lighting the path for next-generation PRA leaders in nuclear engineering

September 28, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear NewsZahra Mohaghegh
The National Center for Supercomputing Facility at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, supporting integrated PRA computational platforms created by the SoTeRiA lab. (Photo by UI Public Affairs: Stauffer)

Our next-­generation leaders must begin to think more creatively, using risk-­informed solutions to ensure safe, resilient, sustainable, and socially responsible technological advancements to usher in an era void of technological accidents. Probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) research and education provide nuclear engineering students with the scientific expertise and viable skill sets essential for meeting the growing demand for risk analysts in nuclear energy domains.

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U.K. reportedly in talks with Westinghouse over nuclear new-build in Wales

September 28, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

In late January, after plans were scrapped for Wylfa Newydd—the Hitachi-led project to build two ABWR units at the site of the decommissioned Wylfa reactors on the Welsh island of Anglesey—the British government stated, “Wylfa remains an important site for potential new projects, and the U.K. government will continue to explore future opportunities for it.”

Industry, IAEA form panel to address global challenges

September 28, 2021, 7:18AMNuclear News

More than a dozen of the world’s leading nuclear industry executives have teamed up with the International Atomic Energy Agency to form the Group of Vienna, with the aim of using nuclear technologies to address global challenges, including climate change, disease, and hunger.

Nuclear Innovation Alliance publishes report on advanced reactors

September 27, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

With the goal of providing basic information on advanced reactors to help the public and stakeholders understand the technology’s promise, the nonprofit think tank Nuclear Innovation Alliance has published Advanced Nuclear Technology: A Primer.

SLOWPOKE-2 reactor refueled after over three decades of research

September 27, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The core of SLOWPOKE-2. (Photo: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced on September 23 that it had refueled the SLOWPOKE-2 research reactor at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario. The reactor was recommissioned on September 10 after a 22-day outage.

IAEA and European Union extend nuclear safety agreement

September 27, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
The EU’s Massimo Garribba (left) and the IAEA’s Lydie Evrard met at last week’s 65th IAEA General Conference to extend a 2013 cooperation agreement. (Photo: C./Silva Villareal)

Some of the major achievements of the nuclear safety cooperation agreement between the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union (EU) include more than 100 nuclear safety review missions, environmental remediation at former uranium sites in Central Asia, and more effective radioactive waste management in Africa.

Matthew Denman: On Probabilistic Risk Assessment

September 24, 2021, 3:32PMNuclear News

Matthew Denman

Probabilistic risk assessment is a systematic methodology for evaluating risks associated with a complex engineered technology such as nuclear energy. PRA risk is defined in terms of possible detrimental outcomes of an activity or action, and as such, risk is characterized by three quantities: what can go wrong, the likelihood of the problem, and the resulting consequences of the problem.

Matthew Denman is principal engineer for reliability engineering at Kairos Power and the chair of the American Nuclear Society and American Society of Mechanical Engineers Joint Committee on Nuclear Risk Management’s Subcommittee of Standards Development. As a college student at the University of Florida, Denman took a course on PRA but didn’t enjoy it, because he did not see its connection to the nuclear power industry. Later, during his Ph.D. study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his advisor was Neil Todreas, a well-known thermal hydraulics expert. Todreas was working on a project with George Apostolakis, who would leave MIT to become a commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The project, “Risk Informing the Design of the Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor,” was a multi-university effort funded through a Department of Energy Nuclear Energy Research Initiative (NERI) grant. Todreas and Apostolakis were joined in this project by a who’s who of nuclear academia, including Andy Kadak (MIT, ANS past president [1999–2000]), Mike Driscoll (MIT), Mike Golay (MIT), Mike Lineberry (Idaho State University, former ANS treasurer), Rich Denning (Ohio State University), and Tunc Aldemir (Ohio State University).

Agencies assess power system performance during February freeze

September 24, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Snow covering grounds of the Texas Capitol on February 15, 2021.

To prevent future winter storms from causing the kind of widespread, lethal power outages wrought by February’s frigid blast through Texas and other states, the electric and natural gas industries need to bolster their winterization and cold weather preparedness and coordination, a just-released preliminary report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corporation concludes.

The two agencies had announced on February 16 that they planned to open a joint inquiry to identify problems with the performance of the bulk power system during the storm and to offer solutions. A team of FERC and NERC staff members presented the report at a FERC meeting on September 23.

A presentation of the report, February 2021 Cold Weather Grid Operations: Preliminary Findings and Recommendations, is available.

NRC brainstorms ways to simplify microreactor licensing

September 24, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
The U.S. NRC headquarters.

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently released a draft white paper outlining strategies for streamlining microreactor licensing. The paper is to be used to facilitate discussion at an upcoming advanced reactor stakeholder public meeting.

“This paper,” the document emphasizes, “has not been subject to NRC management and legal reviews and approvals, and its contents are subject to change and should not be interpreted as official agency positions.”

Hot U market and simmering interest in HALEU: It boils down to demand

September 22, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
(Click photo to enlarge) One of 16 AC100M gas centrifuges built by Centrus Energy for HALEU production in Piketon, Ohio. (Photo: Centrus Energy)

For years, pressure has been building for a commercial path to a stable supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU)—deemed essential for the deployment of advanced power reactors—but advanced reactor developers and enrichment companies are still watching and waiting. In contrast, the uranium spot price soared after Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, a Canadian investment fund formed in July, began buying up U3O8 supplies, causing the price to increase over 60 percent, topping $50 per pound for the first time since 2012. Fueled by growing acknowledgment that nuclear power is a necessary part of a clean energy future, uranium is the focus of attention from Wall Street to Capitol Hill.

Granholm, Grossi prepare for 2022 nuclear ministerial conference

September 22, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News
U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi pose for a photo before their September 21 meeting announcing the next International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

U.S. energy secretary Jennifer Granholm and International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi met in Vienna yesterday during the agency’s 65th General Conference to launch preparations for the next IAEA International Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Power in the 21st Century, slated for October 26–28, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

TVA gives up construction permits for Bellefonte units

September 22, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

Nearly 47 years after being issued construction permits for two reactors at the Bellefonte site in northeast Alabama, the Tennessee Valley Authority has decided against renewing them, essentially extinguishing any remaining hope for the project, on which the utility has reportedly spent more than $5 billion.

Results of advanced nuclear survey released

September 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The U.S. Nuclear Industry Council has released the results of its 2021 Advanced Nuclear Survey.

The results, issued late last month, include information from 17 USNIC-member advanced nuclear developers on topics such as federal and state policies, types of reactors in development, U.S./Canadian licensing, need for control room operators, Nuclear Regulatory Commission fees, Department of Energy programs, and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). In addition, 24 companies (the 17 member firms plus seven nonmember firms) provided their perspectives on the NRC’s planned 10 CFR Part 53 regulation of advanced reactors.