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.

Vistra to grow reactor fleet with purchase of Energy Harbor

March 7, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News
The Beaver Valley nuclear power plant.

Texas-based Vistra Corporation, owner of the Comanche Peak nuclear plant, has announced a $3.43 billion deal to acquire Energy Harbor, the Ohio-based owner and operator of the Beaver Valley, Davis-Besse, and Perry nuclear facilities.

Record power at the Spallation Neutron Source means more neutrons for research

March 7, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A control room monitor at ORNL’s SNS displays the power level of 1,555 kW (1.55 MW), a world record for a linear accelerator used for neutron research. (Photo: Jeremy Rumsey/ORNL)

The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory set a world record for accelerator-driven neutron research when its linear accelerator reached an operating power of 1.55 MW, improving on the facility’s original design capability of 1.4 MW. That higher power means more neutrons for researchers who use the facility for neutron scattering research to reach materials science advances, ORNL announced recently.

First criticality reached at Vogtle-3

March 7, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has achieved initial criticality, Georgia Power announced yesterday. A key milestone on the way to the reactor’s commercial operation, initial criticality demonstrates that operators have safely started, for the first time, the nuclear reaction inside the unit. (Fuel loading at Vogtle-3 began last October.)

From the pages of Nuclear News: Industry update

March 6, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

Here is a recap of industry happenings over the past month:


INFUSE program funds 10 private-public projects

As part of the Department of Energy Office of Science’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy (INFUSE) program, $2.3 million in funding is being awarded to 10 projects that pair private industry with national laboratories for purposes of fusion energy development. The projects are being led by researchers at seven companies: Commonwealth Fusion Systems in Cambridge, Mass.; Energy Driven Technologies in Champaign, Ill.; Focused Energy in Austin, Texas; General Atomics in San Diego, Calif.; Princeton Stellarators in Princeton, N.J.; Tokamak Energy in Bruceton Mills, W.Va.; and Type One Energy Group in Madison, Wis. Through the INFUSE funding, these companies gain access to the expertise of the national labs as they conduct research into fusion energy systems. Each award provides between $50,000 and $500,000 for a one- to two-year project, with a 20 percent cost share for the industry partners.

Lawmaker back with bill to bolster U.S. nuclear sector

March 6, 2023, 12:04PMNuclear News

Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter (R., Ga.)—a cosponsor of a quartet of pronuclear bills from House colleague Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.)—recently reintroduced his own legislation in support of the U.S. nuclear sector: the Global Nuclear Energy Assessment and Cooperation Act (H.R. 995). Joining Carter again as original cosponsor is Rep. Scott Peters (D., Calif.).

Bulgarian firm signs pact with Westinghouse on AP1000 deployment

March 6, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Ivaylo Ivanov (left), member of Kozloduy NPP-Newbuilds’ board of directors, and Elias Gedeon, senior vice president for Westinghouse Energy Systems, complete the signing of an MOU for Westinghouse AP1000 technology. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Continuing to move forward with its ambitions in Central and Eastern Europe, Westinghouse Electric Company last week signed a memorandum of understanding with Kozloduy NPP–Newbuilds (KNPP-NB), establishing a working group to initiate planning for the potential deployment of one or more of the American company’s AP1000 reactors at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy nuclear power plant.

KNPP-NB was established in 2012 to commission new nuclear power capacity at Kozloduy.

The working group, according to a March 2 Westinghouse announcement, will also evaluate regulatory, licensing, and design bases to ensure compliance with applicable regulations, as well as a streamlined execution path to enable Bulgaria to achieve its nuclear energy goals.

NRC grants “timely renewal” exemption for Diablo Canyon

March 3, 2023, 10:31AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Pacific Gas & Electric a “timely renewal” exemption so the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant can continue operating while its license renewal application is under review, it was announced yesterday. This new decision clears a major regulatory hurdle to extending the operating license of the Units 1 and 2 beyond their original closure dates of 2024 and 2025, respectively.

DOE guidance for nuclear credit program’s second award cycle released

March 3, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has announced the release of application guidance for the second award cycle of its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program.

Part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—the $1.2 trillion bipartisan measure signed by President Biden in November 2021—the CNC Program was established to prevent the premature retirement of economically challenged nuclear power plants in recognition of the crucial role the Biden administration sees nuclear playing in achieving its ambitious decarbonization goals, including 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.

Measure to repeal Illinois nuclear construction ban advances

March 2, 2023, 3:13PMNuclear News


A bipartisan effort in the Illinois General Assembly to repeal the state’s decades-old prohibition on new nuclear plant construction made some progress this week when the House Public Utilities Committee voted 18–3 to advance a bill lifting the ban.

Introduced on January 12 by Rep. Mark Walker (D., 53rd Dist.)—who sponsored identical legislation last year—H.B. 1079 would delete language in the Illinois Public Utilities Act that prohibits nuclear plant construction in the state “until the director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency finds that the United States government, through its authorized agency, has identified and approved a demonstrable technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste, or until such construction has been specifically approved by a statute enacted by the General Assembly.” The bill has 31 cosponsors—four Democrats and 27 Republicans.

Lightbridge fuel rods could outperform MOX in plutonium disposition

March 2, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Mock-up of four-lobed helical fuel rods. (Photo: Lightbridge)

Lightbridge Corporation, which is continuing to work closely with national laboratories on the manufacture and testing of its metallic fuel rod designs for light water reactors, just announced the results of an investigation on the casting process for molten uranium and zirconium with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory under the Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program.

Reliable testing under all conditions

March 2, 2023, 12:17AMNuclear NewsChristoph Gatzen and Simon Lemin
VR glasses from manufacturer RealWear.

The challenges of climate change are bringing nuclear energy back into focus. Even in Germany, which decided on a general nuclear phaseout in 2011 as a response to the Fukushima disaster that year, nuclear energy is again being discussed as a bridging technology. Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear saves considerable greenhouse gases. However, for a holistic view of CO2 emissions from power plants, the procurement, maintenance, and repair of plant components must also be considered. At the very least, the CO2 emissions caused by the high costs of testing and maintaining a nuclear power plant can be reduced.

The blossoming of cooperation between the U.S. and Canada

March 2, 2023, 12:17AMNuclear NewsMatt Wald

The United States and Canadian nuclear industries used to be an example of how two independent teams of engineers facing an identical problem—making electricity from uranium—could come up with completely different answers. In the 1950s, Canada began designing a reactor with tubes, heavy water, and natural uranium, while in the U.S. it was big pots of light water and enriched uranium.

But 80 years later, there is a remarkable convergence. The North American push for a new generation of nuclear reactors, mostly small modular reactors (SMRs), is becoming binational, with U.S. and Canadian companies seeking markets and regulatory certification on both sides of the border and in many cases sourcing key components in the other country.

X-energy, Dow agree to embed an Xe-100 demo at a Gulf Coast industrial facility

March 1, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of an Xe-100 plant. (Image: X-energy)

Dow and X-energy announced today that they have signed a joint development agreement (JDA) to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor at an industrial site in North America within a decade. As part of the agreement, Dow is now a subawardee under X-energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) Cooperative Agreement with the Department of Energy.

SHINE's final SER for Wisconsin facility issued by NRC

March 1, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
SHINE’s isotope production building, called the Chrysalis, under construction in October 2022. (Photo: SHINE)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final safety evaluation report (SER) related to the operating license application for SHINE Technologies' large-scale medical isotope production facility, known as The Chrysalis, in Janesville, Wis. The SER documents the results of NRC staff’s technical and safety review of SHINE’s application. SHINE announced the NRC’s decision on February 27.

A record of decision concerning the proposed issuance of the operating license will be published by the NRC at a future date.

Nuclear energy package debuted in House

March 1, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News


Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) recently introduced in the House a four-bill nuclear energy package that, according to the congressman’s office, seeks to “reshape the way our country uses and views nuclear energy.”

Included in the package are the following measures—all originally introduced in the 117th Congress:

  • H.R. 1009—National Strategy to Utilize Microreactors for Natural Disaster Response Efforts Act. This legislation calls on the president to collaborate with several federal entities that currently enjoy minimal interaction to develop a national strategy for the use of microreactors to assist with natural disaster impacts. Cosponsors include Reps. Earl “Buddy” Carter (R., Ga.), Randy Feenstra (R., Iowa), Chuck Fleischmann (R., Tenn.), Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.), Nancy Mace (R., S.C.), Jay Obernolte (R., Calif.), and John Rose (R., Tenn.).

Joint licensing process for Westinghouse microreactor begins

February 28, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A rendering of an eVinci microreactor facility. (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company has filed a notice of intent to submit key licensing reports for its eVinci microreactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for joint review, the firm announced last week. (The two nuclear regulators signed a memorandum of cooperation in August 2019 to increase collaboration on the technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.)

Barakah-3 enters commercial service

February 27, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
Barakah-3 (Photo: ENEC)

Three up, one to go: The third of four Korean-designed APR-1400 reactors at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant has begun commercial operation, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced on February 24.

The NSSC and the workforce

February 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsJasmina Vujic

Jasmina Vujic

Nuclear energy is uniquely poised to create reliable, carbon-free, domestically produced baseload electricity to meet our rising energy demands. It must be a central part of our energy mix in order to have sustainable development, competitiveness, and independence as global energy demand continues to grow. There is also a growing need to address national security challenges like nuclear proliferation resistance and nuclear threat reduction. The fastest and most efficient way to realize the full potential of nuclear power and address nuclear security challenges is to draw on the strengths of our universities, national laboratories, and industry.

U.S. universities are well equipped to be the preeminent providers of nuclear science and engineering education at the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate levels and to perform world-class research across all nuclear science and engineering disciplines, utilizing the resources available across the higher education network and through unique national laboratory partnerships.

The enduring legacy of ACRS: Reviewing safety-licensing to protect the public

February 24, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear NewsHossein Nourbakhsh

The 1957 amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 established the Advisory Committee On Reactor Safeguards as a statutory committee with an independent advisory role and the responsibility to “review safety studies and facility license applications” and advise the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission “with regard to the hazards of proposed or existing reactor facilities and the adequacy of reactor safety standards.” With the enactment of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, the ACRS was assigned to the newly established Nuclear Regulatory Commission with its statutory requirements intact.

Poland, Westinghouse further solidify plans for AP1000 construction

February 24, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left, Westinghouse Energy Systems president David Durham, Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe president Tomasz Stępień, and Westinghouse Poland president Mirosław Kowalik sign a contract on February 22 to advance Poland’s nascent nuclear energy program. (Photo: Westinghouse Electric Company)

State-owned Polish utility Polskie Electrownie Jądrowe and U.S.-based Westinghouse on February 22 moved a step closer to their end goal—the deployment of multiple AP1000 reactors in Poland—with the signing of a contract covering front-end engineering, early procurement work, and program development.