Nuclear Matters asks for half a minute of your time

July 14, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Advocacy group Nuclear Matters is urging members of the nuclear community to send a pre-drafted letter to their representatives on Capitol Hill in support of companion bills H.R. 4024 and S. 2291, the Zero-Emission Nuclear Power Production Credit Act of 2021. The legislation calls for amending the Internal Revenue Code to establish a tax credit to help existing merchant nuclear plants continue operations.

Hanford hosts roundtable on tribal government policy

July 14, 2021, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
An undated historical photo of a portion of the Hanford Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy's Office of River Protection and the Richland Operations Office hosted a roundtable discussion recently with tribal nations located near the Hanford Site to review the Department’s tribal government policy—Order 144.1, the American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Government Policy—and discuss opportunities for strengthening tribal consultation.

The Office of River Protection is within the purview of the DOE's Office of Environmental Management (EM). The Hanford Site, in eastern Washington state, is a 586-square-mile site that was used as a nuclear production complex during the World War II era.

TVA's OIG spots “high” risks in Sequoyah chemistry program

July 14, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Sequoyah nuclear power plant (Photo: Photorush/Wikimedia Commons)

In an evaluation report released last week on the Sequoyah nuclear plant’s chemistry/environmental program, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Office of the Inspector General identified certain risks, both behavioral and operational, that could impact organizational effectiveness. Program behavior was assessed from interviews and field work conducted from September 21 through November 3, 2020, with operations assessed in February of this year.

PJM board okays plan to ease concerns with MOPR ruling

July 14, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
Map of the PJM Interconnection territory in dark blue. Image: PJM

PJM Interconnection’s board of managers has approved the grid operator’s proposal to address the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s controversial December 2019 minimum offer price rule (MOPR) order affecting PJM’s forward-looking capacity auctions. (PJM operates the largest wholesale competitive electricity market in the country.)

Holtec to step up its production of spent fuel casks

July 13, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

A Holtec HI-STAR 150 cask being placed into storage at Cofrentes in Spain on June 23. (Photo: Holtec).

Holtec International is increasing the production of its HI-STAR casks for storing and transporting spent nuclear fuel following recent regulatory approvals and new orders in Europe. Earlier this month the company was awarded a contract by Spain’s waste management organization Enresa for 10 HI-STAR 150 casks, and Holtec is currently in the advanced stages of production of two HI-STAR 180D casks destined for the Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium, with additional orders pending.

The casks are being produced at Holtec’s manufacturing facilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Spain: Enresa initially awarded Holtec a contract in 2017 for the design, engineering, licensing, and manufacturing of five HI-STAR 150 casks for the Cofrentes nuclear power plant near Valencia. The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council signed off on the HI-STAR 150 design for storage in April of this year, and on May 23, Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge granted a license for the cask, which is designed to store up to 52 boiling water reactor spent fuel assemblies, including damaged fuel assemblies.

Scientists use isotopic analysis to ID fraudulent truffles

July 13, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Tuber magnatum, or European white truffles, may be the most expensive food on earth per kilogram. (Photo: Evan Sung)

Scientists from the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, with technical advice and analytical support from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are studying the composition of truffles—a rare and expensive type of mushroom—in order to determine their origin and help detect fraud. Thanks to a database and the techniques developed, other laboratories worldwide can also test truffles, establish their geographical origin, and verify whether they are genuine.

EU lawmakers call on EC to recognize nuclear as sustainable

July 13, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo by DAVID ILIFF.

Eighty-seven members of the European Parliament sent a letter to the European Commission last week to lobby for the addition of nuclear energy to the EU taxonomy, the purpose of which is to direct investments toward environmentally sustainable economic projects to meet the European Union’s climate change mitigation and energy-mix targets.

CBS’s 60 Minutes gets robot’s-eye view of Fukushima Daiichi

July 13, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A look at Fukushima Daiichi today. (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

News programmers’ hunger for stories about the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011 shows no signs of abating.

Another year, another ANS president

July 12, 2021, 3:08PMANS NewsSteven P. Nesbit

Steven P. Nesbit

It’s like clockwork. In June of every year, the American Nuclear Society brings in a new elected leader for the next 12 months. I’m Steve Nesbit, the latest in a line of distinguished (and maybe a few not so distinguished) nuclear professionals who have had the honor and privilege of serving as ANS president.

This is your lucky day. Everything you ever wanted to know about me, but were afraid to ask, is in an article in the July issue of Nuclear News (page 28). Instead of plowing that ground again here, I’ll take advantage of my monthly column to cover a few other topics that are hopefully of value.

Waste management at Los Alamos’s PF-4 a continuing challenge

July 12, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Photo: LANL)

The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, which provides independent federal oversight of Department of Energy weapons facilities, has reported that low-level radioactive and other combustible waste is accumulating in the basement of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plutonium Facility (PF-4), and that housekeeping and waste management in the PF-4 basement have been a continuing challenge.

The 1958 Ford Nucleon: An idea that’s still ahead of its time

July 12, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The 1958 Ford Nucleon concept car. (Photo: The Drive )

A car capable of traveling 5,000 miles between fueling stops? Sounds impossible, right? It turns out that, yes, it was impossible. But that didn’t stop the Ford Motor Company in 1958 from envisioning a car—the Nucleon—powered by a small nuclear reactor. The Drive took a close look at the fantastical idea in a July 5 article, “Inside the Impossible Dream of the Nuclear-Powered 1958 Ford Nucleon.”

RaFTS: The Radiation Field Training Simulator

July 9, 2021, 2:43PMNuclear NewsGreg White, Steve Kreek, William Dunlop, Joshua Oakgrove, Dan Bower, Dave Trombino, Erik Swanberg, and Steven Pike

One of the biggest challenges in training for incidents and emergencies that involve high-radiation-dose hazards is balancing between realism and safety. To be truly prepared for the realities of real-world nuclear and radiological emergencies, responder personnel need experience against those hazards but without introducing additional and very personal risks associated with unnecessary radiation exposure. The difficulty is in figuring out how we can achieve a level of realism that encompasses the entire process, from the initial detection of a hazard or threat, through its characterization, to recommending actions and leadership decision-making.

Euratom program receives EC funding

July 9, 2021, 12:38PMNuclear News
Flags in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. (Image: Sébastien Bertrand)

The European Commission last week adopted the Euratom Work Programme 2021–2022, implementing the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2021–2025, a complement to Horizon Europe, the European Union’s key funding program for research and innovation.

Radioactive molecules could probe origins of the universe

July 9, 2021, 9:13AMNuclear News

Physicists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions have measured the effect of a single neutron in a molecule of radium monofluoride and hypothesize that radioactive molecules could be used as a tool to explore why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe. The research team’s findings were published in the journal Physical Review Letters on July 7, and on the same day, an article published online by MIT News explained the implications of their work.

ANS urges Biden to quickly fill NRC vacancies

July 9, 2021, 6:04AMANS News
Former commissioner Annie Caputo left the NRC when her term expired at the end of June.

In a July 1 letter to President Biden, ANS President Steven Nesbit and ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy stated that a full complement of five commissioners is essential to the effectiveness of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in protecting public health and safety while enabling the deployment and applications of nuclear technology.

Texas governor calls for incentivizing nuclear, gas, coal for grid reliability

July 8, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Map of ERCOT over the state of Texas (Image: ERCOT)

Motivated by February’s Texas grid debacle and last month’s Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) alert pleading with residents to conserve energy, Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this week issued a letter to members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), directing them to take immediate action to improve electric reliability across the state. According to the governor’s office, the directives build on reforms passed in the 87th legislative session to increase power generation capacity and ensure the reliability of the Texas power grid.

NRC decision on Holtec’s interim storage facility expected by January

July 8, 2021, 11:54AMRadwaste Solutions
An artist's rendering of the HI-STORE facility (Image: Holtec)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to complete its safety review of Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility by January 2022. A final licensing decision on the facility will be made in conjunction with the release of the agency’s final safety evaluation report, the NRC said in a July 2 letter to Holtec.

Communicating about radiation in the 21st century

July 8, 2021, 9:27AMNuclear NewsPaul A. Locke


It might seem odd to begin a discussion about radiation risk communication with a title that references the 21st century. Simple math tells us that more than 20 percent of the 21st century is in our rearview mirror. Still, today we are relying on many of the concepts and ideas about communication that were developed decades ago. Using dated techniques for outreach about radiation hinders efforts to engage communities and the public in a discussion about the risks and benefits of technologies that use radiation sources.

Several years ago, I visited the Hanford Site’s B Reactor. I also toured an operating nuclear power plant that is currently part of the U.S. fleet, and I have learned about the design and operation of advanced small modular reactors. The evolution in reactor designs represented by these three technologies demonstrates that a culture of innovation and research delivers success. The nuclear industry is now, and continues to be, forward-looking as power generation, cleanup, and worker protection become advanced and are made safer, more efficient, and ready for the future.


Savannah River doubles shifts for processing surplus Pu

July 8, 2021, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of Savannah River’s K Area Complex, where plutonium downblending operations take place. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has doubled the number of work shifts for employees in glove box operations at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The increased work pace will help the department meet its commitment to South Carolina to remove surplus plutonium from the state, the DOE said.