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.

TerraPower bullish on Natrium plant construction

March 26, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

TerraPower officials said last week to expect “dirt moving” at its Wyoming site come June—and for operations to begin there as early as 2030—as it advances plans to build new nuclear in the United States. But 40-plus pages of initial commentary from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the form of a preapplication readiness assessment report, may slow TerraPower’s plans.

Unlocking Africa’s potential through nuclear energy

March 26, 2024, 7:02AMNuclear NewsAleshia Duncan

Aleshia Duncan

Data from the African Development Bank shows that Africans have an electricity access rate of 40 percent—the lowest in the world. This statistic is one I have been hoping to bring more awareness to and positively impact. Since stepping into my role at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, I have prioritized focusing on Africa, leveraging the opportunity to deepen existing relationships and forge new ones.

Developments in advanced reactor technology are opening the door to all nations and promise to be critical to attaining climate and energy security goals. As we engage various countries on the African continent regarding their desire to pursue nuclear as an important part of their energy mix, Ghana has emerged as a nation that offers a unique partner profile that is aligned with our mission to support emerging markets and build regional leaders while also being motivated by its own sense of urgency in deploying new nuclear.

General Atomics, UAE sign memorandum of understanding

March 25, 2024, 3:09PMNuclear News
Scott Forney (left), president of General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems and Mohamed Al Hammadi, managing director and CEO of ENEC. (Photo: General Atomics)

General Atomics announced last week that it will work with the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to help find opportunities to support the United Arab Emirates.

Representatives from both companies signed a memorandum of understanding at the CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas. The ENEC will work closest with General Atomics’ GA-EMS team, which develops new technologies and aims to deliver breakthrough solutions supporting environments from undersea to space.

Notes from Poland

March 25, 2024, 9:32AMNuclear NewsWojciech Jerzy Głuszewski
Aerial photo of Warsaw city center in Poland.

The development of nuclear power is one of the pillars of Poland’s energy transition, which involves construction of safe and modern Generation III+ pressurized water reactors.

Polskie Elektrownie Ja˛drowe (PEJ) is the company responsible for, among other things, preparing the investment process for the construction of the first Polish nuclear power plant with a capacity of up to 3,750 MWe. PEJ’s goal is to build six nuclear reactors (for a total capacity of 6–9 GWe), securing 25 percent of the electricity needed in Poland by 2043 and guaranteeing a stable supply of clean energy to millions of homes across the country.

Kickoff event coming on codes and standards for advanced reactors

March 25, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Idaho National Laboratory are hosting a hybrid event on April 4 to launch a coordinated effort focused on leveraging consensus codes and standards to support deployment of new and advanced reactor technologies.

The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (EDT) at the NRC’s Rockville, Md., headquarters and will be accessible online through Microsoft Teams. Participants must register to attend either in-person or virtually.

Revitalization of nuclear energy policy for green transformation in Japan

March 22, 2024, 2:59PMNuclear NewsAkira Yamaguchi

The revitalization of nuclear energy policy in Japan began on August 24, 2022, with Prime Minister Kishida’s address at the second Green Transformation (GX) Executive Meeting. He said, “It is urgent to resolve the present deadlock in energy policy; in order to overcome the current crisis in power supply and demand . . . we will take all possible measures to prepare for unforeseen circumstances. In particular, regarding nuclear power plants (NPPs), the government will take all possible measures to restart the suspended NPPs already licensed for operation.” Kishida emphasized that nuclear power is an indispensable decarbonized energy source for the advancement of the green transformation. The cabinet in February 2023 approved the Basic Policy for the Realization of GX (hereinafter referred to as the GX Basic Policy).

Congress votes on Price-Anderson Act extension

March 22, 2024, 1:39PMNuclear News

A minibus appropriations bill—the second produced this month by Congress—emerged from conference negotiations yesterday with language that would extend the Price-Anderson Act—legislation first enacted in 1954 that makes it possible for nuclear power producers to seek insurance from the private marketplace. Today the House of Representatives voted 286–134 to approve the minibus package of six fiscal year 2024 appropriations bills, and the Senate is expected to vote today, too. By extending the Price-Anderson Act—now set to expire in 2025—Congress can support the current U.S. power reactor fleet and pave the way for new reactor deployments.

Nuclear Energy Declaration adopted at Brussels summit

March 22, 2024, 12:02PMNuclear News
Government leaders gather on stage with IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi at the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels on March 21.

International leaders and government representatives from nations that are operating or interested in operating nuclear power plants adopted a Nuclear Energy Declaration on March 21 at the first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit, hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Belgian government in Brussels, Belgium.

Hanson to be renominated as NRC chair and member

March 22, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News


President Biden announced yesterday his intent to renominate Christopher T. Hanson to be a member and chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Hanson was designated NRC chair by Biden in 2021 and was sworn in as a commissioner on June 8, 2020. He is filling the remainder of a five-year term ending on June 30, 2024.

Experience: Hanson has more than two decades of government and private-sector experience in nuclear energy. Prior to joining the NRC, he served as a staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he oversaw civilian and national security nuclear programs. Before working in the Senate, he was a senior advisor in the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. He also worked in the DOE’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, where he oversaw nuclear and environmental cleanup programs and managed the department’s relationship with congressional appropriations committees.

GAIN awards include plan to integrate fast reactor test vehicle in Oklo’s Aurora

March 21, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The primary system of THETA at Argonne’s Mechanisms Engineering Test Loop Facility, where Oklo is conducting sodium thermal-hydraulic testing with support from a GAIN award announced in 2021. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

The Department of Energy and the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) on March 19 announced the second round of fiscal year 2024 voucher awards to three companies: Element Factory, Kanata America, and Oklo.

Nuclear moments

March 21, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear NewsGrace Stanke

Grace Stanke

I just spent 13 months as Miss America 2023 advocating for nuclear energy. Throughout those 13 months, I traveled approximately 280,000 miles to 23 states and eight countries. I have now seen eight different power plants (seven in the United States and one in Japan). I visited radiological isotope production facilities, reprocessing facility construction sites, research facilities, and more. My work extended to visits at schools, trips to talk with state and national legislators, and stops at varying professional groups looking to learn more about nuclear science. It certainly was an interesting year, and one that I could not have foreseen.

Experiences: One thing that this year has made me appreciate about the nuclear industry: No matter what facility, and no matter what country you are in, there is always a plan. I never thought I would be so giddy to walk into a power plant and sit down for a pre-job brief, but honestly, I love them now. The desire to be prepared and have a plan is not so present in most other industries!

EnergySolutions buys Cabrera; eyes work in Asia

March 21, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News

Utah-based waste management company EnergySolutions is expanding its operations in the United States and Asia, announcing last week that it had acquired Cabrera Services, a U.S. provider of environmental and radiological remediation services. It also signed a memorandum of understanding with Germany’s GNS Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service to provide services to the Asian nuclear market.

From the pages of Nuclear News: Industry Update March 2024

March 20, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

Here is a recap of industry happenings from the recent past:


PPPL awards contract for fusion development

The Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has awarded an engineering support services contract for the development of fusion energy to a consortium of business partners led by AtkinsRéalis that includes Jacobs Technology and Longenecker and Associates. The contract has a base period of three years with two optional years and a ceiling value of $50 million. Services to be provided under the agreement include design of future upgrades for the National Spherical Torus Experiment–Upgrade (NSTX-U, the main fusion experiment at PPPL); design and fabrication of plasma diagnostic and heating subsystems for ITER (the international fusion facility being constructed in France); conceptual design of electricity-generating fusion plants; and development of physics and technology advances for improving the economics of fusion plants. Another partner that will support this contract is the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, for which AtkinsRéalis has been working on stage 1 of the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP) program.

Clementine—The world’s first fast neutron reactor

March 19, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
The exterior of the Clementine nuclear reactor at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. (Photo: LANL)

In March 1949—75 years ago this month—the 25-kilowatt reactor known as Clementine reached full power. As an experimental reactor, it had a rather long and successful run. It was the world’s first fast neutron (high-energy) reactor and operated from initial criticality in 1946 to final shutdown in 1952.

Penn State welcomes neutron scattering device—a first of a kind in the U.S.

March 19, 2024, 9:37AMNuclear News
The Penn State RSEC recently received a SANS device. (Photo: Poornima Tomy/Penn State)

Staff and researchers at Penn State’s Radiation Science and Engineering Center (RSEC) will work this year to install a small angle neutron scattering (SANS) device and become the first and only U.S. university research reactor to host SANS capability. The $9.8 million device, donated by Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB) in Germany, will help researchers determine the structure of organic materials such as polymers, complex fluids, and biomolecules.

PG&E to dredge Diablo Canyon intake system

March 19, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
A view of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant from the water. (Photo: California Coastal Commission)

The owners of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant plan to dredge a massive buildup of shoaled sediment from its seawater intake cove.

Pacific Gas and Electric spokesperson Suzanne Hosn said, “The dredging project in the Diablo Canyon marina will remove approximately 70,000 cubic yards of sediment to prevent circumstances that could impact the power plant’s cooling system. Dredging will take place for the first time since operations began because of a rapid increase in sediment.”

Lightbridge announces first U-Zr fuel rod samples extruded at INL

March 18, 2024, 3:12PMNuclear News
The extrusion in progress. (Photo: INL/Lightbridge)

Lightbridge Corporation announced today that it has reached “a critical milestone” in the development of its extruded solid fuel technology. Coupon samples using an alloy of zirconium and depleted uranium—not the high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) that Lightbridge plans to use to manufacture its fuel for the commercial market—were extruded at Idaho National Laboratory’s Materials and Fuels Complex.