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.

Agency favors revising population-related siting rules for advanced reactors

July 28, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently approved, in a 2–1 vote, a recommendation from its staff that could potentially lead to the siting of advanced reactors in more densely populated areas than is permitted for traditional light water units.

NRC chairman Christopher Hanson and David Wright voted in favor of the recommendation, with Jeffery Baran casting the lone “nay” vote. (There are currently two open seats on the five-member commission.)

DOE issues Record of Decision for Versatile Test Reactor’s final EIS

July 27, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
An artistic rendering of the Versatile Test Reactor. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy today issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (final VTR EIS; DOE/EIS-0542). The VTR will be a sodium-cooled, fast-neutron-spectrum test reactor that will enhance and accelerate research, development, and demonstration of innovative nuclear energy technologies critical to tackling the climate crisis, according to the DOE.

The VTR ROD and final VTR EIS are available for viewing or download here.

Belgium advances plan to extend operations at Doel, Tihange

July 27, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium along with the De Molen windmill in foreground. (Photo: Trougnouf)

The Belgian government has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Electrabel, a subsidiary of the French utility Engie, to keep nuclear a part of Belgium’s energy mix for an additional 10 years.

Electrabel operates Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, the four-unit Doel and three-unit Tihange.

Candu Energy wins Cernavoda unit refurbishment contract

July 26, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
Romania’s Cernavoda Units 1 and 2. (Photo: Nuclearelectrica)

Romania’s Nuclearelectrica, the state-owned operator of the two-unit Cernavoda nuclear power plant, has awarded Candu Energy a contract to conduct design and engineering services for the facility’s Unit 1 refurbishment project, according to an announcement last week from SNC-Lavalin, Candu Energy’s parent company.

ANS Grand Challenge: Low-dose radiation

July 25, 2022, 3:18PMNuclear NewsAmir A. Bahadori

The June 2017 special report on the ANS Nuclear Grand Challenges (available online at identified low-dose radiation as a crucial focus area for ANS. Specifically, the challenge is to “Establish the scientific basis for modern low-dose radiation regulation.” This is particularly difficult given the long review cycles associated with International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) and National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) recommendations. Additionally, while the Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with issuing guidance on radiation exposure standards in the United States, responsibility for implementing and enforcing radiation protection regulations is distributed throughout the federal government. Finally, while it is accepted that tissue reactions (previously called deterministic or nonstochastic effects) exhibit a dose threshold, there is still substantial scientific debate over the shape of the dose response at low doses for stochastic effects, such as cancer. Despite these hurdles, substantial progress has been made over the past five years on the low-dose radiation grand challenge.

Holtec defines $7.4B SMR build plan, inks agreement with Entergy

July 25, 2022, 7:03AMNuclear News
Holtec’s Advanced Manufacturing Division, in Camden, N.J. (Photo: Holtec)

The Department of Energy earlier this year approved part one of a loan application from Holtec International for small modular reactor construction and invited the firm to apply for a loan to help build four of its SMR-160 units and grow its manufacturing capacity to produce the first wave of SMRs.

Full steam ahead: Cooling tower refurbishment at Mochovce

July 22, 2022, 2:37PMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor
A view of the entrance to tower #22, showing the dismantled part of an inclined column.

While the construction of two additional reactors at Slovakia’s Mochovce nuclear plant (Units 3 and 4) may get most of the attention, it isn’t the only major project underway there. In October of last year, plant owner Slovenské Elektrárne commenced the first phase of an effort to revitalize two of the four 125-meter-tall, Iterson-type cooling towers that serve the facility’s two operating reactors—both of which began generating electricity in the late 1990s. Towers #11 and #21 had been refurbished in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The other two, however, towers #12 and #22, had never undergone refurbishment.

X-energy picks constructor collaborators

July 22, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News

Rockville, Md.–based X-energy announced yesterday that it has selected Zachry Group and a combined team from Burns & McDonnell and Day & Zimmermann to work with the company on the next phases of design and deployment for its Xe-100 small modular reactor fleet.

Savannah River leverages its tritium experience to support fusion power

July 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Savannah River National Laboratory (Photo: DOE)

When the Department of Energy announced Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) awards earlier this month, Savannah River National Laboratory was named a recipient of two of the 18 awards. SRNL released a statement on July 19 explaining how a national lab with a long history of supporting environmental management and national security missions can lend a hand in the development of future commercial fusion power.

U.K. greenlights Sizewell C project

July 21, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
A computer-generated rendering of the Sizewell site on the Suffolk coast. Sizewell A and B are to the left and center (respectively) in this image; the section to the right is the Sizewell C area. (Image: EDF Energy)

The U.K. government has granted a development consent order (DCO) for EDF Energy’s proposed Sizewell C plant near Leiston in Suffolk, moving the new nuclear build project closer to a reality.

Nuclear New Build (NBB) Generation Company, an EDF Energy subsidiary, submitted the DCO application to the government’s Planning Inspectorate in May 2020, setting out the range of measures the project would implement to mitigate construction effects and maximize community benefits. The Planning Inspectorate accepted the application in June 2020 and completed its examination in October 2021. Recommendations were made to the secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy this February.

TAE Technologies secures investments to fund fusion research reactor

July 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Copernicus, TAE’s sixth-generation fusion reactor. (Image: TAE)

California-based TAE Technologies has announced that its accomplishments with its fifth-generation fusion research reactor, Norman, have allowed it to secure sufficient strategic and institutional investments to fund the construction of its sixth-generation research reactor, Copernicus.

Bruce Power, BWXT sign major component manufacturing deal

July 21, 2022, 6:55AMNuclear News
The Bruce plant’s Unit 6 upper feeder cabinet. (Photo: Bruce Power)

As part of its “Made in Ontario” strategy announced last year, Bruce Power has awarded a contract valued at C$130 million (about US$100.8 million) to BWXT Canada in support of the ongoing major component replacement (MCR) project at the utility’s eight-unit Bruce nuclear plant.

Kairos Power and Materion commission fluoride salt purification plant

July 20, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
(Photo: Kairos Power)

Kairos Power needs a source of high-purity fluoride salt to test its molten salt reactor design and ultimately to serve as the coolant in its grid-scale fluoride salt–cooled, high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR). As part of a cooperative development agreement with Materion Corporation, Kairos Power designed a molten salt purification plant (MSPP) that has just been commissioned at Materion’s campus in Elmore, Ohio.

AP1000 plant license process in Ukraine advances

July 20, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
(Photo: Energoatom)

Westinghouse has signed a new contract with Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear utility, to provide technical information in support of Energoatom’s feasibility study update for the construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The contract, according to Westinghouse’s announcement, advances the previously signed agreement between Westinghouse and Energoatom for the construction of two of the Generation III+ reactors at Khmelnytskyi Units 5 and 6.

Energy Northwest, Curio partner on recycling used fuel

July 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station, in Richland, Wash. (Photo: Energy Northwest)

Energy Northwest, owner and operator of Columbia Generating Station in Richland, Wash., recently signed a memorandum of understanding with nuclear technology firm Curio Solutions regarding Curio’s NuCycle nuclear waste recycling process.

Columbia is the Northwest’s only operating nuclear power plant, consisting of one 1,207-MWe boiling water reactor. There are currently 54 concrete and steel casks on site, holding the spent fuel produced by the reactor since it began commercial operation in 1984.

OPG adds nuclear to Green Bond Framework

July 19, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News
Darlington's refurbishment to be aided by Green Bond Framework funds. (Photo: OPG)

Ontario Power Generation has updated its Green Bond Framework to include nuclear energy in recognition of the role the technology stands to play in helping the company reach its decarbonization goals. (OPG’s climate change plan, established in 2020, commits the firm to achieving net-zero carbon emission status by 2040.)

The green bonds issued by the utility and its subsidiaries are used to finance and/or refinance certain energy projects and support the development of clean technologies.

INL researchers take microreactor digital twin for a spin

July 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
A screenshot taken from a INL video demonstrating MAGNET and its digital twin. (Source: INL)

Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) recently performed their first digital twin test of the Microreactor Agile Non-nuclear Experimental Testbed (MAGNET) and captured the demonstration in a video posted July 14. The digital twin—a virtual representation of a microreactor—was built using advancements in remote monitoring, autonomous control, and predictive capabilities that could help lower operating costs of microreactor technologies and enhance their safety.

JET’s 2021 fusion achievement settles a bet more than three decades old

July 18, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News
A plaque honoring JET’s world record–setting achievement of fusion energy production of 50 megajoules in a single shot (right) and commemorating a 34-year-old bet between Goldston (top left) and Jacquinot (bottom left). (Photo: PPPL and EUROfusion consortium/collage by Kiran Sudarsanan)

A wager struck by two plasma physicists 34 years ago was finally fulfilled in June during the opening day of the 48th European Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics, when Robert Goldston, former director of the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), virtually presented a plaque to his friend and colleague Jean Jacquinot, former director of the Joint European Torus (JET), EUROfusion's flagship fusion experiment based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the United Kingdom. Their bet, and JET’s record-breaking achievements in 2021, were celebrated in an article published by PPPL on July 8.

Construction of Shin-Hanul-3 and -4 to resume

July 18, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artist's rendering of Shin-Hanul Units 3 and 4. (Image: KHNP)

South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, appears to be following through on his campaign pledge to reverse the previous administration’s domestic nuclear phaseout plan. Earlier this month, Yoon’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy announced a new direction for the nation’s energy policy—one that calls for, among other things, a reembrace of nuclear power. A further announcement on the subject last week provided additional details.

Defending the nuclear discipline

July 18, 2022, 9:32AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

If you keep tabs on nuclear in popular culture, you know that Netflix recently released a four-part series entitled Meltdown: Three Mile Island. Nominally listed as a “documentary,” the series starts out with a generally accurate chronology of the 1979 event. However, it soon veers off the rails into an uncorroborated conspiracy theory of how the cleanup team risked “wiping out the entire East Coast” in their haste to complete the job on time. Nuclear Newswire has done a fantastic job of unpacking the distortions and outright falsehoods in “Meltdown: Drama disguised as a documentary."

Netflix showrunners were clearly more interested in maximizing the number of eyeballs on their content than in the accuracy of the information they present. But should that make us angry? Netflix is not a news organization; they are a highly algorithm-driven purveyor of video entertainment. Their “recommendation engine” knows what we want, and we happily let them spoon-feed us our next binge watch.