The New Safe Confinement in final position over reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 2017. Photo: Tim Porter
On April 26, 1986, reactor No. 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded, sending radioactive material into the environment and across Europe. After 35 years, Ukrainians are looking to the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster “for inspiration, solace, and income,” according to an ABC News report.
Artist’s view of heavy water eliciting sweet taste in humans. Graphic design: Tomáš Bello/IOCB Prague
Is isotope science all sweetness and light? Recent headlines on research confirming the sweet taste of heavy water and the creation of the lightest isotope of uranium yet may give that impression. But the serious science behind these separate research findings has implications for human health and for the understanding of the process of alpha decay.
Salem Nuclear Power Plant as photographed from Delaware Bay.
When a nuclear power plant closes, here is what happens:
Thousands of people lose their jobs. The local economy nosedives. Air pollution increases. Reliance on natural gas, often bought from out-of-state, goes up. Electricity on the grid becomes less reliable with the loss of the most reliable source of power. And electric prices can even rise.
An illustration of WIPP’s Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System, expected to be completed in 2025. Image: DOE
Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP), the management and operations contractor for the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico, announced that it has awarded a subcontract valued at approximately $163 million to The Industrial Company (TIC) to complete the construction of the transuranic waste repository’s Safety Significant Confinement Ventilation System (SSCVS).
Diver John Lehto (right) receives final instructions from Carter Thomas before entering a 300,000-gallon water tank at the Hanford Site. Lehto and Thomas are employees of Hanford Site subcontractor Associated Underwater Services. Photos: DOE EM
The Department of Energy’s Richland Operations Office contractors Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) and Hanford Mission Integration Solutions (HMIS) teamed up recently to dive into inspection and maintenance activities at the Hanford Site in Washington state.
Project video: View this video for sights and sounds from this unique project.
Fully ceramic microencapsulated fuel. Image: USNC
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced last week that it has fabricated fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel pellets, a proprietary reactor fuel designed by Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) for its Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). The FCM project, funded through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), represents the first time that tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel has been manufactured in Canada, according to CNL.
A screenshot from the Kurzgesagt YouTube video
The German animation studio Kurzgesagt released a new video to its English YouTube channel last week to answer the question, “Do we need nuclear energy to stop climate change?” The studio’s channel on YouTube is self-described as a small team working to make science look beautiful. Its videos discuss a variety of scientific, technological, philosophical, and psychological questions, and it has more than 14 million subscribers. The channel recently discussed the question of deaths caused by radiation—spoiler alert, nuclear is among the safest of all energy production.
Waste handlers take radiological readings as a crane lifts containers from a TRUPACT-II cask in the contact-handled waste bay at WIPP. Photo: DOE
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico is once again accepting shipments and processing transuranic waste following a two-month annual maintenance outage. According to the Department of Energy, WIPP is back to accepting five waste shipments per week, with post-pandemic plans to increase shipments to 10 per week.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney at an online event on April 14, after signing an agreement on small modular reactor development. Photo: Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has added his signature to a memorandum of understanding on small modular reactor development that was signed in 2019 by the premiers of New Brunswick, Ontario, and Saskatchewan. Kenney signed the document last week at a virtual event that also promoted the release of Feasibility of Small Modular Reactor Development and Deployment in Canada—a study formally requested as part of the MOU.