Metz on Harold Denton: Memories of a life in nuclear safety

July 23, 2021, 2:54PMNuclear News


A number of years ago, historian and writer Chuck Metz Jr. was at the Bush’s Visitor Center in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains when he ran into former Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Harold Denton and his wife. Metz was at the visitor center, which opened in 2010 and is now a tourist hotspot, because, as he explained to the Dentons at the time, he had overseen the development of its on-site museum and had written a companion coffee-table history book.

The chance meeting turned into a friendship and a fruitful collaboration. Denton, who in 1979 was the public spokesperson for the NRC as the Three Mile Island-2 accident unfolded, had been working on his memoir, but he was stuck. He asked Metz for help with the organization and compilation of his notes. “I was about to retire,” Metz said, “but I thought that exploring the nuclear world might be an interesting change of pace.”

Denton passed away in 2017, but by then Metz had spent many hours with his fast friend and was able to complete the memoir, Three Mile Island and Beyond: Memories of a Life in Nuclear Safety, which was published recently by ANS. Metz shared some of his thoughts about Denton and the book with Nuclear News. The interview was conducted by NN’s David Strutz.

EDF: Taishan’s “evolving” fuel failure would merit a shutdown and assessment in France

July 23, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Taishan nuclear power plant. (Photo: EDF Energy)

If Taishan-1 were operating in France, Électricité de France would shut down the reactor in order to assess the situation in progress and stop its development, according to a July 22 press release from EDF. The 1,660-MWe French-designed EPR—the recent subject of sensational press coverage of fuel rod failures—operates in China’s Guangdong Province.

FirstEnergy charged with fraud, agrees to $230 million fine

July 23, 2021, 7:12AMNuclear News
Davis-Besse nuclear power station, which is operated by EnergyHarbor. (Photo: U.S. NRC)

Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corporation has been charged with wire fraud and will pay a $230 million monetary penalty over its role in a $61-million corruption and racketeering scheme to secure state subsidies for Ohio’s nuclear power plants, Davis-Besse and Perry.

Group pans Spain’s call to exclude nuclear from EU taxonomy

July 22, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Iberdrola’s Cofrentes plant, in Valencia. All of Spain’s reactors are to be retired by 2035. (Photo: Foro Nuclear)

Foro Nuclear, a Madrid-based association representing the interests of Spain’s nuclear sector, is not at all happy with its government’s involvement in a letter sent late last month to the European Commission calling for the exclusion of nuclear energy from the European Union taxonomy. (The taxonomy is a classification system establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities for the EU.) Signing the letter were Spain’s minister for ecological transition and minister for the economy, as well as ministers from Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Luxembourg.

Nuclear propulsion on the rise as private companies and NASA redefine space travel

July 22, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Hot-fire test at Blue Origin’s West Texas launch facility in July 2019. (Photo: Blue Origin)

In July 1969, the public’s attention was fixated on NASA’s Apollo 11 mission—a “giant leap for mankind” that was memorably marked by Neil Armstrong as he stepped onto the surface of the moon. This July, the possibilities of spaceflight are once again capturing the public’s imagination and news headlines. While NASA invests in nuclear propulsion research and development to stretch the limits of U.S. space missions, private companies Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are stretching the definition of “astronaut” and proving they can offer a high-altitude thrill to paying customers.

U.K. strategy on nuclear hydrogen released

July 22, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

A report released last week by the Nuclear Sector Deal’s Innovation Group sets out a series of recommendations for the United Kingdom to realize the opportunity of zero-carbon hydrogen derived from nuclear energy.

“Sector deals,” according to the British government, are partnerships between industry and government on sector-specific issues to create opportunities to boost productivity, employment, innovation, and skills. The Nuclear Sector Deal, launched in June 2018, was developed by the Nuclear Industry Council.

China moves closer to completion of world’s first thorium reactor

July 22, 2021, 6:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe
China’s molten salt loop experiment. (Photo: Thorium Energy World)

China is moving ahead with the development of an experimental reactor that would be the first of its kind in the world and “could prove key to the pursuit of clean and safe nuclear power,” according to an article in New Atlas.

N.J. Supreme Court rejects nuclear subsidy appeal

July 21, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Salem nuclear power plant. (Photo: Peretzp)

In the latest legal action over the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) April 2019 order providing subsidies to the Hope Creek and Salem nuclear plants, the state’s Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal.

Cultivating leadership behaviors in a post-pandemic energy sector

July 21, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear CafeEdward Halpin and Michael J. Reidy

The nuclear community has been one of the safest and lowest-risk industries in the world, allowing it to compete in a crowded energy sector without compromise. This defining ethos is predicated on strong, emotionally safe cultures that have enabled the nuclear power sector to honestly and transparently learn from notable mistakes, such as the design flaws that led to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, resulting in a safer, more competitive industry.

Ghana latest nation to ink civil nuclear MOU with U.S.

July 21, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

The United States and the Republic of Ghana have signed a nuclear cooperation memorandum of understanding. The NCMOU is a diplomatic instrument that, according to the U.S. State Department, strengthens and expands “strategic ties between the United States and a partner country by providing a framework for cooperation on civil nuclear issues and for engagement between experts from government, industry, national laboratories, and academic institutions.”

UAMPS downsizes NuScale SMR plans

July 21, 2021, 7:06AMNuclear News
A still image from a three-part video tour of NuScale’s facilities. (Photos: NuScale Power)

When Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) in 2015 announced its plan to develop the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) using NuScale Power’s modular light water reactor design, it envisioned the construction of a dozen 50-MWe modules for a plant that could produce a total of 600 MWe. The CFPP’s target output later rose to 720 MWe, when UAMPS opted to scale up to 60-MWe modules. In late June, the plans changed once again, as UAMPS participants chose to build 77-MWe modules but downsize the plant from 12 units to six, which would yield 462 MWe—about 64 percent of the 720 MWe that could have been generated from 12 of the 60-MWe modules.

Exelon touts reliability of nuclear as time runs short to save Byron, Dresden

July 20, 2021, 3:49PMNuclear News
The Dresden nuclear power plant (Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

As Illinois lawmakers continue to debate energy legislation that would allow the state’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants to continue operation beyond this year, Exelon would like to remind everyone—including those legislators, no doubt—of what is at stake.

Mapping the scattered family tree of fission neutrons

July 20, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nicholas Thompson of LANL helps set up the neutron clustering measurements at the Walthousen Reactor Critical Facility at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Schenectady, NY. (Photo: LANL)

A statistically predicted tendency for neutrons produced inside fission reactors to form in clusters can cause asymmetrical energy production that is counterbalanced, at least in part, by the spontaneous fission of radioactive material in the reactor.

Radiation safety expert debunks three myths about nuclear waste

July 20, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Photo: University of Manchester (U.K.)

Nuclear waste should not be used as an excuse for trying to shut down nuclear reactors, says radiation safety expert Andrew Karam in his recent article for the American Council on Science and Health titled, “Let’s Talk about Radioactive Waste."

Building nuclear plants faster and in a more affordable way

July 19, 2021, 3:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe


There is a lot of buzz around advanced reactors, and for good reason, according to Ashley Finan, director of the Department of Energy’s National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC). In the article 3 Ways to Make Nuclear Power Plants Faster and More Affordable to Build, published earlier this month on the DOE’s website, Finan noted that advanced reactors promise to be cheaper to build and operate, offer enhanced versatility, and can help put the United States on a path to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

The key cost driver will be construction and project management, “areas that have plagued the industry for decades,” Finan noted.

“For advanced nuclear energy to realize its potential, we have to make it more affordable and scalable. Only then can it meaningfully contribute to our energy, security, and environmental imperatives,” she added.

House appropriators pass bill with more funding for nuclear energy

July 19, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

The House Committee on Appropriations last week approved an Energy and Water Development funding bill for fiscal year 2022 that provides an 11 percent increase for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

Reported favorably out of committee on July 16 via a party-line vote of 33 to 24, the House bill sports a total price tag of $53.2 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from the FY 2021 enacted level. (The committee’s official report on appropriations for the next fiscal year can be found here.)

Work begins on training center to thwart nuclear terrorism

July 19, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Rendering of the multipurpose building that will house the Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Centre. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency has broken ground for a new building designed to help countries combat nuclear terrorism in areas such as illegal material trafficking and physical protection of facilities.

Bill to preserve, expand U.S. nuclear energy sector reintroduced

July 19, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News


A bipartisan group of senators has reintroduced the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act (ANIA), initially introduced last fall in the previous Congress. Sponsors include Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), the ranking member of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee; John Barrasso (R., Wyo.); Cory Booker (D., N.J.); Mike Crapo (R., Idaho); and Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.).

Last month, the American Nuclear Society joined 23 other nuclear-focused entities in signing a letter to those lawmakers urging reintroduction of the bill.

China’s electron beam technology for treating industrial wastewater

July 16, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear NewsCarley Willis and Joanne Liou
Photo: Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology

With the capacity to treat 30,000 cubic meters of wastewater per day, the largest industrial wastewater treatment facility using electron beam technology in the world was inaugurated in China in June 2020. The treatment process has the capacity to save 4.5 million m3 of fresh water annually—equivalent to the amount of water consumed by about 100,000 people.