Baranwal on NFWG plan: “It’s time to get to work”

Baranwal

“Our ability to produce domestic nuclear fuel is on the verge of a collapse,” Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal said in an article posted on the DOE’s website on May 11. “This is not an easy problem to fix, but the United States has a plan.”

NRC expected to issue Mo-99 facility license for Shine in 2021

Shine Medical Technologies, which is building a medical isotope production facility in Janesville, Wis., said on May 11 that it expects to have an operating license issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by October 2021. Shine’s application seeking approval to operate the facility, which will produce isotopes including molybdenum-99, was accepted and docketed by the NRC last October. Mo-99, the precursor to technetium-99m, is used in more than 40 million medical patient procedures every year.

ANS Virtual Trivia Night: The world’s first Zoom nuclear trivia event?

ANS’s first Virtual Trivia Night drew over 80 contestants who were ready to test their nuclear knowledge during an evening of Zoom-based socialization sponsored by the ANS Young Members Group, the Student Sections Committee, and the Diversity and Inclusion in ANS Committee. YMG Vice Chair Catherine Prat hosted the May 8 event. “I really appreciated seeing how engaged the players were throughout the night,” she said. “They were great guinea pigs for this first-of-a-kind event, as we continue to explore ways to connect virtually.”

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Southern gives nod to NRC on violation at Vogtle

Southern Nuclear has accepted a “white” finding (one of low to moderate safety significance) and an associated violation notice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a problem at the company’s Vogtle nuclear plant, near Waynesboro, Ga. Earlier this year, Southern had contested the severity of the finding, arguing to no avail that the finding be more appropriately characterized as “green” (very low safety significance).

Jacobs to study C-14 in U.K. AGR graphite

The global engineering company Jacobs, under a contract with Radioactive Waste Management Ltd. (RWM), will be studying the release of radioactivity from irradiated graphite taken from reactor core samples at the United Kingdom’s nuclear power plants. According to Jacobs, the research will support RWM, a subsidiary of the U.K. government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, in its analysis of graphite behavior and the options for graphite waste management in the future.

ANS standards updates

ANS publishes standards that set forth requirements for the design, manufacture, or operation of a piece of equipment. These standards can address computer firmware and software, and can address the necessary physical and functional features of equipment, its safe application, or some combination of these. These standards are applied on a voluntary basis, and when adopted by a state or federal agency, they becomes part of their mandatory codes.

ANS standards are available at the ANS Standards store.

The following standards have been approved, published, or are open for comment.

Illinois plants set outage performance marks

Four of six Illinois nuclear power plants—Braidwood, Byron, LaSalle, and Quad Cities—set operational records while conducting spring refueling outages amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Performance records include the shortest refueling outage (18 days) at LaSalle; the shortest refueling outage at Quad Cities (16 days), as well as the completion of the site’s longest continuous run (722 days); and the completion at both Braidwood and Byron of their sixth consecutive continuous cycle of operations, also known as a “breaker-to-breaker” run, according to a May 7 press release from Exelon Generation. Exelon’s average outage duration in Illinois this spring was 17 days, a full two weeks shorter than the national average, the release stated.

Comment period on Texas SNF storage facility opens

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting comments on its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) proposed consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel and greater-than-Class C (GTCC) waste in West Texas. The NRC published notice of the draft EIS in the May 8 Federal Register with a deadline of September 4 to submit comments. The NRC said that it is extending the usual 60-day comment period to allow more time for members of the public to submit comments during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Comments can be submitted through the federal rulemaking website with a search for Docket ID NRC–2016–0231.

“Top-secret” Los Alamos is in the spotlight

The ANS Young Members Group (YMG) is delivering an in-depth look at the Department of Energy’s national laboratories through a series of live webinars called Spotlight on National Labs. The third and most recent webinar attracted more than 1,000 participants who were keen to learn about the mission and key projects of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Safety board endorses Surry second license renewal

The ACRS supports subsequent license renewal for the Dominion units. Photo: Dominion Energy

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) has issued a report recommending approval of Dominion Energy’s 20-year subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for Surry-1 and -2. The board reached its conclusion during its April meeting, after reviewing both the SLR application and the associated final safety evaluation report. Dominion submitted the application in October 2018.

NRC declines call to suspend public proceedings

A request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it suspend all rulemakings and other activities involving public comment or participation has failed to receive the petitioners’ desired response from the agency.

In a letter dated April 8, representatives of 82 largely antinuclear organizations—including Beyond Nuclear, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club—argue that the public’s role in NRC rulemaking and licensing decisions is not being properly protected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Global nuclear output expected to drop due to COVID-19

Birol

Nuclear energy demand and output could be reduced by 2.5 percent this year compared with 2019, according to the report Global Energy Review 2020 from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report states that global nuclear power generation fell by about 3 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, adding that the decline was due to lower electricity demand as well as delays for planned maintenance and construction of several projects.

Comment now on advanced reactor GEIS scope

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is developing a generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) for small-scale advanced reactor designs. Just how small a reactor must be to fit the parameters of the GEIS is one topic open for public comment, but the NRC staff anticipates including reactors generating up to 30 MWt. The public comment period is open until June 30

New inspector general confirmed for NRC

Robert Feitel, speaking at his December 3, 2019, nomination hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.

The Senate voted unanimously 87–0 on May 4 to confirm Robert Feitel as the inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The position had been vacant since the end of 2018, when the NRC’s longtime IG Hubert T. Bell retired.

A Department of Justice attorney, Feitel was nominated for the job by President Trump in October last year, and in December he was approved by the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee, also by unanimous vote.

Alloy 617 is new option for high-temp reactors

When it comes to advanced, high-temperature reactors—using working fluids such as molten salt, high-temperature gases, or sodium—there simply are not many qualified materials for nuclear component construction. Alloy 617 is not a new material, but it made the news after Idaho National Laboratory announced that it was recently added to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel (BPV) Code for high-temperature nuclear applications, bringing the total number of qualified high-temperature materials to six.

Texas CISF poses no adverse environmental impacts

A rendering of Phase 1 of ISP’s proposed consolidated interim storage facility in Andrews County, Texas. Image: WCS

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) proposed consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel and greater-than-Class C (GTCC) waste in West Texas. Based on its environmental review of the CISF, the NRC staff issued a preliminary recommendation that an NRC license be granted to ISP to construct and operate the CISF to temporarily store up to 5,000 metric tons of uranium (MTU) in commercial spent fuel and GTCC waste for a licensing period of 40 years.

Vogtle work slows, but start dates remain

The Vogtle-3 containment vessel in March. Photo: Georgia Power

Despite its recent decision to trim the workforce at the Vogtle reactor construction project by about 20 percent to better address the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Company is confident that Units 3 and 4—twin AP 1000 pressurized water reactors—will be up and running according to schedule.