Root causes of NIST reactor alert point to operator training

October 6, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
A rendering of the core of the NBSR, which consists of 30 aluminum-cladded plate-type U3O8 fuel elements with a 17.8-cm gap between elements. (Image: NCNR Technical Working Group, Root Cause Investigation of February 2021 Fuel Failure) (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has submitted two reports and supplemental information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after conducting a root cause analysis of the February 2021 fuel failure and resultant alert at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) in Gaithersburg, Md. While the 20-MWt NCNR research reactor remains shut down, scuttling the plans of researchers who rely on it as a source of both cold and thermal neutrons, NIST states in an October 4 update that it has requested permission to restart the reactor, contingent upon meeting all 18 corrective actions identified.

Nuclear fusion: Are we getting close?

October 6, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
(University of Rochester illustration/Michael Osadciw)

The U.K. government has just published Towards Fusion Energy: The UK Government’s Fusion Strategy, which sets out the goal of the United Kingdom's moving from “a fusion science superpower to a fusion industry superpower,” with a prototype fusion power plant being built in the country by 2040.

While a slightly ambitious plan, there are now about 20 startup companies working to achieve a Wright brothers’ moment in fusion sooner than that. This includes Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which is aiming for a working fusion power plant by 2030 and is the subject of Rivka Galchen’s October 4 New Yorker article, “Can Nuclear Fusion Put the Brakes on Climate Change?”

Treating arrhythmia with radiation yields healthier heart tissue, researchers say

October 6, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Illustration of a normal human heart showing ventricles and valves. (Image: Patrick J. Lynch, medical illustrator; C. Carl Jaffe, M.D., cardiologist)

Therapeutic radiation is typically reserved for cancer treatment, but scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have applied radiation therapy to treat ventricular tachycardia, a life-threatening heart arrhythmia. A news release issued by the university says that the results of the study show that radiation therapy can “reprogram” heart muscle cells to “a younger and perhaps healthier state.” The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on September 24.

CNL issues call for third round of proposals under Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative

October 6, 2021, 7:29AMNuclear News

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) last week issued a call for proposals for the third round of its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) program.

More information about the program, including application details, can be found online.

NRC names new director for operations

October 5, 2021, 2:40PMNuclear News

Dorman

Daniel H. Dorman has been chosen as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s next executive director for operations, effective October 10. He succeeds Margaret M. Doane, who leaves the agency October 8 to take a senior position with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Dorman currently serves as the NRC’s deputy executive director for reactor and preparedness programs, which includes oversight of all four of the agency’s regional offices.

“Dan has admirably served the NRC for more than 30 years in key leadership positions,” said NRC chairman Christopher T. Hanson. “He is someone who keenly understands the needs of our agency and our people. Dan is a problem solver, a champion for agency modernization and innovation, and has proven through results his ability to rally our staff for a common purpose. He has earned the respect of our workforce, the NRC leadership, and the agency’s diverse stakeholders.”

DOE expands HLW canister double-stacking at Savannah River Site

October 5, 2021, 12:06PMRadwaste Solutions
Savannah River Remediation workers double-stack HLW canisters in an underground vault in Savannah River’s Glass Waste Storage Building 2 using a one-of-a-kind shielded canister transporter. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has demonstrated the capability to expand the double-stacking of high-level waste canisters at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. That approach will save the site’s cleanup program millions of dollars, according to the DOE.

DOE demolishes last of ETEC buildings at California’s Santa Susana site

October 5, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Sodium Pump Test Facility was the last DOE building to be demolished at the Energy Technology Engineering Center site in California. (Photo: DOE)

The demolition of the final of 18 DOE-owned buildings at the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) has been completed, according to the DOE. The ETEC is the former liquid metals research facility located at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), northwest of Los Angeles.

ANS to honor award recipients at 2021 Winter Meeting

October 5, 2021, 7:00AMANS News

The recipients of ANS awards will be recognized during the 2021 ANS Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., during the opening plenary and President’s Special Session. The national awards will be presented by President Steven Nesbit and Honors and Awards Committee chair H. M. “Hash” Hashemian.

Bruce-6 gets first of eight new steam generators

October 4, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News
Bruce nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada. (Photo: Bruce Power)

The first of eight 160-ton steam generators for Unit 6 at Canada’s Bruce nuclear power plant was installed last week as part of the facility’s major component replacement project. “Congrats to the MCR team and our partners, including @AeconGroup, @Framatome_CA, @UEandC, @mammoetglobal, @BWXT, and others who contributed to this historic moment,” Bruce Power tweeted on September 30.

The component was fabricated at BWXT Canada’s Cambridge, Ontario, location and was shipped to the Bruce site in late 2020, as shown in this video.

The vendor responsible for generator removal is the Steam Generator Replacement Team (SGRT), a 50-50 joint venture between Aecon and the Steam Generating Team, itself a partnership between Framatome and United Engineers & Constructors. In July, Framatome announced that SGRT had been awarded an approximately C$350 million (about $278 million) contract by Bruce Power to replace the steam generators at Units 3 and 4.

Tennessee-85 students to receive inaugural Social Responsibility award from ANS

October 4, 2021, 12:01PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society has selected a group of Black former students known as the Tennessee-85 to receive the inaugural Social Responsibility in the Nuclear Community Award. The 85 former students are receiving the honor in recognition of their bravery and leadership displayed in desegregating an Oak Ridge school in Tennessee in 1955. A co-recipient of the award is the Secretary of Energy for the leadership displayed by the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Department of Energy) in ordering the all-white Oak Ridge public schools to integrate that year. The award will be presented at the upcoming ANS Winter Meeting.

Violation at River Bend draws proposed $150K fine from NRC

October 4, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
River Bend nuclear power plant

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $150,000 fine to Entergy Operations after conducting investigations that identified three willful violations of agency requirements at the company’s River Bend nuclear power plant. Located in Francisville, La., River Bend houses a 974-MWe boiling water reactor.

NRC suspends authority to ship heavy water to China

October 4, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

Citing national security interests, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an order suspending the general license authority to export radioactive material and deuterium to China General Nuclear (CGN) and its subsidiaries or related entities.

The NRC licensees subject to the order had been authorized to ship radioactive materials and heavy water to China through a general license granted in sections 110.21 through 110.24 of 10 CFR Part 110. Notice of the order was published in the October 1 Federal Register.

Renewing a national treasure: INL’s Advanced Test Reactor undergoes sixth core overhaul

October 1, 2021, 5:15PMNuclear NewsJoseph Campbell; Photos by Joseph Campbell and Peter Ritchie, INL
The first of three phases of the Advanced Test Reactor’s sixth core overhaul culminated with the removal of the 31-ton stainless steel vessel top head on July 1, for the first time since 2004. The vessel and top head underwent extensive inspection, laser scanning, and upgrade as part of the overhaul. (Photo: JC)

Out of the frenzy of nuclear technology and engineering development at the height of the Atomic Age, a few designs stand out above the rest—designs so innovative that they would not be surpassed for years, or even decades. An example of this unsurpassed design brilliance exists in the form of Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor.

“ATR is really a beautiful machine,” said Sean O’Kelly, associate lab director for the ATR Complex. “The elegant cloverleaf core and control systems were a stroke of genius that solved just about every key problem of test reactor design. The designers’ solutions to those problems give us a testing capacity and flexibility that have yet to be matched.”

PRISMAP: A European network for medical radioisotope production and research

October 1, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
A conceptual image of collaboration across Europe. (Image: PRISMAP/SCIPROM)

Only a few of the more than 3,000 radioisotopes that scientists have synthesized in the laboratory are regularly used in diagnostic or therapeutic medicine. One significant barrier to the development of new medical radioisotopes is the difficulty of gaining access to radionuclides during the early stages of development and research. PRISMAP is a new medical radionuclide program designed to streamline that access for medical research in the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Digitalization of Work: A Key to Viability for Nuclear Power

October 1, 2021, 11:18AMSponsored ContentNextAxiom Technology

Work itself can be digitalized

Almost every aspect of work within a nuclear plant can be digitalized—from your frontline maintenance to back-end support functions. Digitalized work improves productivity, efficiency, and safety while substantially reducing costs.

From a work performance perspective, an organization can be defined as a collection of processes, often governed by regulatory policies. These processes are implemented using paper-centric procedures, work instructions, forms and checklists, often touching many hands during preparation, performance, and record management. This perspective applies to both direct powerplant operations and maintenance as well as administrative and support functions.

PJM’s modified MOPR takes effect, boosting nuclear’s competitiveness

October 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Map of the PJM Interconnection territory in dark blue. Image: PJM

A proposal by PJM Interconnection to modify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s contentious minimum offer price rule (MOPR) order went into effect by default on Wednesday after the commission failed to take action on it.

According to a notice from the FERC secretary, “In the absence of commission action on or before September 28, 2021, PJM’s proposal became effective by operation of law. Accordingly, the effective date of the proposed tariff sheets is September 29, 2021. The commission did not act on PJM’s filing because the commissioners are divided two against two as to the lawfulness of the change.”

Generation Atomic to Sierra Club: OK, boomer, time to rethink nuclear

October 1, 2021, 7:03AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Claiming 3.8 million members and supporters, the Sierra Club is one of the most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. Yet, the Sierra Club says it remains “unequivocally opposed to nuclear energy,” despite the technology’s incredible ability to provide clean, safe, and reliable energy.

Byron, Dresden to receive nine-digit investments

September 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Workers perform maintenance during Byron’s refueling outage. (Photo: Exelon)

Exelon Generation announced yesterday that it is investing more than $300 million in capital projects at its Byron and Dresden nuclear plants in Illinois over the next five years and filling some 650 vacant positions across the state.

These actions are in response to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent signing of S.B. 2408, the hard-won legislation that rescued the nuclear facilities from premature retirement.

NRC agrees to review SLR application for St. Lucie reactors

September 30, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The St. Lucie nuclear power plant.

Florida Power and Light Company is seeking to keep its St. Lucie nuclear plant in operation into the 2060s, and so far, so good: In early August, the utility submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission a subsequent license renewal application for the facility’s two units, and last Friday, the NRC accepted the application for review.