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.


Hot functional testing at Pakistan’s Karachi-3 completed

November 15, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Karachi nuclear plant in southern Pakistan. (Photo: CNNC)

Hot functional testing at Unit 3 of Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant has been completed ahead of schedule, and the reactor has entered the fuel loading stage, China National Nuclear Corporation announced on November 11.

Researchers adapt Cf-252 source for wireless data transmission

November 15, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
(CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE) The researchers’ experimental layout is depicted here. In (b), the neutron chopper is depicted without the mesh guard shown in (d), a photograph of the experimental layout that includes the Cf-252 source tank at left. (Composite image: Joyce, et al., “Wireless information transfer with fast neutrons,” doi.org/10.1016/j.nima.2021.165946)

Swapping conventional electromagnetic radiation for fast neutrons, a team of research engineers at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom, working with the Jozef Stefan Institute of Slovenia, report that they have successfully transmitted digital information wirelessly using nuclear radiation. The researchers’ attempts to transmit words and numbers using standard ASCII code “were 100 percent successful,” according to a November 10 press release from Lancaster University. Their research will be published in an upcoming issue of Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research and is now available online.

Cintichem’s research reactor and hot cell facility decommissioning

November 12, 2021, 4:35PMNuclear NewsThomas S. LaGuardia and Joseph E. Carignan

The Cintichem radioisotope production facility was located in Tuxedo, N.Y., 60 miles northwest of New York City, on a 100-acre site in the Sterling Forest Industrial Park. The facility was owned and operated by Union Carbide Corporation until 1984, when it was sold to Hoffman-LaRoche, a large pharmaceutical company.

The facility consisted of a 5-MWt, pool-type research reactor and production facility, connected via a 12-foot-deep, water-filled transfer canal to a bank of five adjacent hot cells. The facility began operation in the early 1960s, producing neutron-irradiated, enriched uranium target capsules. The fuel was 93 percent high-enriched uranium.

Canada authorizes Mo-99 production at Darlington station

November 12, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Darlington nuclear power plant. (Photo: OPG)

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has amended Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) operating license for its Darlington nuclear power station near Clarington, Ontario, allowing the company to produce the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 using Darlington’s Unit 2 CANDU reactor. OPG subsidiary Laurentis Energy Partners, in conjunction with BWXT Medical, is leading the program to produce Mo-99 at Darlington.

French president calls for new nuclear construction

November 11, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Macron

In a televised address Tuesday evening, French president Emmanuel Macron announced his government’s intention to build new large nuclear reactors in France to address growing energy and environmental challenges.

“If we want to pay for our energy at reasonable rates and not depend on foreign countries, we must both continue to save energy and invest in the production of carbon-free energy on our soil,” said Macron. “This is why, to guarantee France’s energy independence, to guarantee our country’s electricity supply, and to reach our goals—notably carbon neutrality in 2050—we will for the first time in decades revive the construction of nuclear reactors in our country and continue to develop renewable energy. These investments will allow us to live up to our commitments. As we close COP26 in Glasgow, this is a strong message from France.”

Uranium dropped from critical minerals list

November 11, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) this week revealed its draft revised list of critical minerals—those deemed essential to economic and national security—and uranium is not on it.

The list was initially developed in 2018 in response to a December 2017 Trump administration executive order. Uranium was included as one of 35 minerals on that list.

X-energy has work ahead in quest to build TRISO-X fuel facility, Xe-100 reactor

November 10, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The TRISO-X fuel pebble shown here contains TRISO particles—HALEU-bearing kernels of oxide and carbide in alternating layers of pyrolytic carbon and silicon carbide. (Image: X-energy)

X-energy and Centrus Energy announced last week that they have completed the preliminary design of the TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility and have signed a contract for the next phase of work. The planned facility would produce TRISO fuel particles and pack those particles into fuel forms, including the spherical graphite “pebbles” needed to fuel X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor.

Diablo Canyon report takeaways: California has options, and it’s time for debate

November 10, 2021, 12:02PMNuclear News

A new study by researchers from Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production—makes a compelling case that the 2018 decision to shut down California’s only operating nuclear power plants needs another look—and that revenue options could make reversing the decision not just feasible but economically attractive.

“Fast-forward three years and things have changed,” said Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and one of the authors of the report, during a November 8 webinar. Since the decision was made to shut down Diablo Canyon’s twin pressurized water reactors in 2024 and 2025 when their current licenses expire, the state has passed bills calling for net zero carbon emissions by 2045 and for restrictions on land use that could effectively limit solar installation sprawl. Californian’s have also experienced repeated grid reliability issues and prolonged drought conditions.

Comments requested on draft EIS for Point Beach SLR

November 10, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Point Beach nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued for public comment a draft environmental impact statement on NextEra Energy’s application for the subsequent license renewal of its Point Beach reactors, located in Two Rivers, Wis. Subsequent license renewal allows a reactor to operate for 20 years beyond the expiration of its original license renewal.

First complete accident tolerant fuel assembly in operation at Calvert Cliffs

November 9, 2021, 3:32PMNuclear News
Framatome’s PROtect accident tolerant fuel assembly undergoes final inspection before delivery to Exelon’s Calvert Cliffs-2 in Lusby, Md.

The nuclear industry’s first 100 percent accident tolerant fuel assembly is in operation at Exelon Generation’s Calvert Cliffs plant, the Department of Energy announced yesterday. The advanced fuel will operate in the reactor for the next four to six years and will be routinely inspected to monitor its performance, the DOE said.

Located in Lusby, Md., Calvert Cliffs houses two pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 is rated at 907 Mwe, and Unit 2 at 881 Mwe.

Framatome completes acquisition of Rolls-Royce I&C business

November 9, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
More than 550 employees will join Framatome as part of its acquisition of Rolls-Royce’s I&C business. (Photo: Business Wire)

French nuclear reactor company Framatome has completed its purchase of Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Instrumentation and Control. Framatome announced in December 2020 that it had agreed to acquire Rolls-Royce’s I&C business, which has operations in France, the Czech Republic, and China.

According to Framatome, the transaction builds on the company’s engineering expertise, enlarges its industrial footprint, and expands its global I&C systems development and deployment capabilities.

Trillion-dollar infrastructure bill passes House

November 8, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

After hours of squabbling between left-wing and centrist Democrats, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill (H.R. 3684)—one of the two main pillars of President Biden’s domestic agenda—passed the House of Representatives late Friday night and has been sent to the White House for signing. The final tally was 228–206, with 13 Republicans joining most Democrats in casting their votes in favor of the legislation.

Enhanced monitoring of fuel reprocessing relies on machine learning

November 8, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Clifford

Lackey

Two student interns at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory looking for an easier way to monitor the acidity and phosphate concentrations of a process fluid like dissolved nuclear fuel have published research on a monitoring method that provides real-time data without the need for physical sampling of the substance. Their story was published on October 27 on PNNL’s website.

Student leaders: Hope Lackey conducted pH measurement and chemical analysis research during her Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships (SULI) experience at PNNL in 2018 while she was working toward her undergraduate degree in environmental studies at the College of Idaho. Andrew Clifford, also a SULI intern and a student at the College of Idaho, partnered with Lackey between his junior and senior year, while studying for a dual bachelor’s in chemistry and math/physics.

Decommissioning San Onofre

November 5, 2021, 3:37PMNuclear NewsJohn Dobken

Imagine it’s January 1998. A specially equipped train from the Department of Energy rolls up to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to pick up spent nuclear fuel and take it to the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. This scene is repeated thousands of times at nuclear plant sites across the U.S. over the ensuing decades. The solution to permanent spent fuel disposal as outlined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (and its amendments) is working as intended. The nation’s commercial spent fuel is safely isolated deep underground for the long term.

But that is not what happened. Work on Yucca Mountain has been stalled for a full decade, and the organization within the DOE that by law is responsible for managing the spent fuel program has been defunded and disbanded.

Construction of UAE’s Barakah-3 completed

November 5, 2021, 12:09PMNuclear News
The Barakah nuclear power plant. Unit 3 is the second from left. (Photo: Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation)

The construction of Unit 3 at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant has been completed, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced yesterday on the sidelines of COP26, the high-profile climate confab taking place in Scotland this week and next.

According to ENEC’s announcement, Barakah-3 will now undergo operational readiness activities and is on track to start up in 2023.

Senators probe nuclear priorities: HALEU, hydrogen, reactor siting, and more

November 5, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
From left, Shannon Bragg-Sitton, Paul Chodak, and Michael J. Guastella appear before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on November 4.

As Congress awaited key votes yesterday on spending bills that include production tax credits for at-risk plants and a new amendment adding $500 million in supplemental funding over five years to increase the availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a Full Committee Hearing On Potential Non-Electric Applications Of Civilian Nuclear Energy. Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.), chairman of the committee, emphasized that “advanced nuclear reactors hold enormous potential to provide opportunity to communities across the country with zero-emission baseload power” and made it clear he expects new reactors to replace retiring coal plants in his home state of West Virginia.

Speaking before the committee were Shannon Bragg-Sitton of Idaho National Laboratory, Paul Chodak III of American Electric Power, and Michael J. Guastella of the Council of Radionuclides and Radiopharmaceuticals.

Exelon to Congress: Pass infrastructure and Build Back Better bills

November 4, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

Crane

Exelon, owner and operator of the nation’s largest nuclear reactor fleet, has made clear its position on the massive infrastructure and social spending bills that federal lawmakers, at this writing, continue to haggle over.

“As world leaders convene in Glasgow for COP26 to address the climate crisis, the need for America to take action has never been more urgent,” said Chris Crane, Exelon’s president and chief executive officer, on Monday. “The bipartisan infrastructure agreement and the policy framework for Build Back Better legislation will make us more competitive globally, spur innovation and support good-paying jobs, protect current and future generations from the worst impacts of climate change, and cement America’s leadership on one of the most pressing challenges—and opportunities—of our time. The time to act is now, and we encourage lawmakers to pass these critical policies into law.”

U.S., Romania team up to build SMR plant

November 3, 2021, 12:05PMNuclear News
Artist rendering of a NuScale SMR plant.

On the sidelines of the COP26 Conference in Glasgow yesterday, John Kerry, the Biden’s administration’s special presidential envoy for climate, joined Romanian president Klaus Iohannis to announce plans to build a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor plant in Romania. The SMR technology is to be provided by NuScale Power, based in Portland, Ore.

How is technology changing the field of environmental remediation?

November 2, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

For U.S. nuclear plants now undergoing decommissioning and those about to begin the process, environmental remediation has remained relatively consistent on the nuclear side with respect to contaminated soil and groundwater cleanup. However, non-­radiological chemical remediation has been shifting as new and emerging compounds are getting attention from the public and from the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies.