IAEA combats crop-threatening banana wilt with nuclear technology

January 6, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
In 2021, the Fusarium wilt disease continued to spread in banana plantations across South America. (Photo: M.Dita/Biodiversity International, Colombia)

A lethal banana disease, known as the Fusarium wilt or Panama wilt, is spreading rapidly in South America and threatening global supplies of the Cavendish banana, the world’s most popular export variety. Working with experts in the Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, the IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are using irradiation and nuclear-derived techniques to combat, manage, and prevent the spread of the disease. The IAEA describes the work in a December 24 news article.

Preferred site picked for Poland’s first nuclear plant

January 6, 2022, 12:07PMNuclear News

A location in northern Poland near the Baltic coast, Lubiatowo-Kopalino, has been selected as the preferred site for the nation’s first nuclear power plant, winning out over nearby Żarnowiec, Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ) announced recently. The site is approximately 40 miles northwest of Gdansk, the capital of Poland’s Pomeranian province.

The Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards elects 2022 leadership

January 6, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Rempe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards has elected Joy Rempe as chair, Walter Kirchner as vice chair, and David Petti as member-at-large. All three are ANS members.

“I am honored that my colleagues on the ACRS elected me to this position,” said Rempe, of Rempe and Associates. “The leadership team looks forward to ensuring that the ACRS continues its tradition of providing the commission advice on safety issues.”

Bios: Rempe has more than 35 years of experience in the areas of reactor safety and instrumentation performance. Prior to retiring as a Laboratory Fellow at Idaho National Laboratory, she founded an instrumentation development and deployment laboratory, which supported irradiation testing in U.S. and international facilities.

How can operating nuclear plants challenge the status quo?

January 6, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

Throughout the history of commercial nuclear power plant operations, there have been events that changed the industry. The incidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima brought about great advancements in how nuclear plants are operated, including additional safety measures and supplemental training on how to prevent such events. Looking forward, the commercial nuclear industry is poised for a similar transformative change: one motivated by financial viability.

New GAIN website tracks significant advanced reactor milestones

January 5, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new website, Milestones in Advanced Nuclear, has been launched by the Department of Energy's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN). The website features news stories about advanced reactor activities and offers a “Contact an expert” section for submitting questions and comments for response from GAIN.

DOE opens clean energy demonstrations office

January 5, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy recently announced the establishment of a new office aimed at supporting clean energy technology demonstration projects in areas such as advanced nuclear reactors, clean hydrogen, carbon capture, and grid-scale energy storage.

A creation of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden last November, the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations boasts a $21.5 billion budget, including $2.4 billion for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

Draft proposal includes nuclear in EU taxonomy

January 5, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

France and other pronuclear European Union members appear to be winning the argument with their antinuclear neighbors—Germany, most prominently—regarding whether to add nuclear energy to the EU taxonomy, the classification system used to direct investments toward environmentally sustainable economic projects.

On January 1, the European Commission released a 60-page draft proposal that includes nuclear and natural gas in the taxonomy. Also, in a related press release, the EC said that it has begun consultations with EU members “on a draft text of a Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act covering certain gas and nuclear activities.”

Advanced reactor company CEOs on NRC licensing

January 5, 2022, 7:12AMNuclear News
Still image from the session. From left to right are Judi Greenwald, Harlan Bowers, Simon Irish, Mike Laufer, and Jake DeWitte.

The 2021 ANS Winter Meeting included an executive session on advanced reactor licensing, featuring the leaders of four of the top advanced reactor companies: Mike Laufer, chief executive officer of Kairos Power; Jake DeWitte, CEO of Oklo; Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy; and Harlan Bowers, president of X-energy.

Page charges eliminated from ANS technical journals

January 4, 2022, 3:02PMANS News

For well over 30 years, ANS leadership has sparred with members of the academic community about the issue of page charges for ANS’s publications. Page charges have been in place all this time as a way to cover the cost of publication for those journals, as well as to support other beneficial activities of the Society. However, especially in recent years, attitudes among academic publishers have shifted, and page charges for technical journal publications are essentially extinct. ANS’s three technical journals—Nuclear Science and Engineering, Nuclear Technology, and Fusion Science and Technology—have held on to the page charge revenue stream despite vocal criticism from the community.

Until now.

2022 ANS Congressional Fellow begins work on Senate committee staff

January 4, 2022, 12:01PMANS News

Marzano

Matthew Marzano is beginning a year of service in Washington, D.C., as the 2022 Glenn T. Seaborg Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow, and he is excited about bringing his nuclear power experience to the policy-making process.

“I am most looking forward to the opportunity to learn about the legislative process and the conduct of business on Capitol Hill. Oftentimes we are presented a picture of a dysfunctional Congress through the media, but I’ve gathered through the orientation process and congressional interviews that collaboration is alive and well, especially in the area of clean energy,” Marzano said.

Unhappy new year: Germany closes three nuclear plants

January 4, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
E.ON subsidiary Preussen Elektra’s Grohnde nuclear plant, located near the town of Hameln in Lower Saxony, on the banks of the Weser River. (Wikimedia/Heinz-Josef Lücking)

Holding to its Fukushima-inspired policy of phasing out nuclear power, and ignoring pleas from a variety of clean energy advocates to reconsider, Germany has closed three of its remaining six operating nuclear power plants.

NRC proposes penalty for security violations at Oyster Creek

January 4, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News
Spent fuel casks are loaded at Oyster Creek’s dry storage pad. (Photo: Holtec)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $150,000 fine for apparent security-related violations at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey. Oyster Creek permanently ceased operations in 2018, and ownership of the plant was transferred to Holtec Decommissioning International for decommissioning in July 2019.

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

October 8, 2021, 3:31PMUpdated December 31, 2021, 4:16PMNuclear 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)

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The October issue focused on plant maintenance and outage management with multiple articles looking at efficient ways to deal with plant maintenance. The article below looks at the herculean effort by INL to lead a full overhaul of the Advanced Test Reactor--a task that happens about every 10 years.

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.”

The origins of The Reactor Safety Study

September 10, 2021, 8:22AMUpdated December 31, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear NewsThomas R. Wellock
An aerial view of the Hanford reservation and Columbia River that shows the N (nearest), KE/KW (center), and B (top right) reactors. (Photo: U.S. DOE )

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The September issue took an in-depth look into Probabilistic Risk Assessments with multiple articles reviewing the subject and how PRA can benefit nuclear reactor safety. The first article (below) provided a detailed review of the AEC Reactor Safety Study, also known as the WASH-1400 report.

In March 1972, Stephen Hanauer, a technical advisor with the Atomic Energy Commission, met with Norman Rasmussen, a nuclear engineering professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The AEC had recruited Rasmussen to develop a report, The Reactor Safety Study (WASH-1400), to estimate the probabilities and consequences of a major nuclear power plant accident. With thousands of safety components in a modern reactor, the task was mind-boggling. Rasmussen proposed a novel approach based on more powerful computers, “fault tree” methodology, and an expanding body of operational data. By calculating and aggregating probabilities for innumerable failure chains of components, he believed he could develop a meaningful estimate of overall accident risk. WASH-1400 would be a first-of-its-kind probabilistic risk assessment (PRA).

USA’s ARM extends a hand in preserving nuclear competitiveness

August 6, 2021, 4:27PMUpdated December 30, 2021, 4:14PMNuclear NewsClinton Carter

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The August issue was the annual Vendor/Contractor profile issue, with an additional focus on programs to help the current fleet compete in local energy markets. The article below looks at the Utilities Service Alliance's Advanced Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics Services program.

It is no secret that the nuclear power industry is enduring an economic crisis. Brought about largely by the impact of technological disruption across the larger energy market, a number of utilities have had no option but to prematurely shut down some nuclear plants because they could no longer compete in the regions they serve. Many others are similarly at risk.

A critical shift in low-dose radiation research and communication

July 2, 2021, 2:15PMUpdated December 30, 2021, 7:15AMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
A hot cell at Argonne National Laboratory was used to demonstrate a process for purifying molybdenum-99, an important diagnostic medical isotope. (Photo: Wes Agresta/ANL)

As 2021 comes to a close, Nuclear News is looking back at the feature articles published in each monthly issue this past year. The article below was featured in our July issue, which focused on health physics and low-dose radiation and also included the ANS president's profile. The article below describes efforts to shape a new national low-dose radiation research program under a strategic plan being developed by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The biggest impact of radiation in our lives may come not from radiation itself, but from regulations and guidelines intended to control exposures to man-made sources that represent a small fraction of the natural radiation around us.

How the NRC modernized its digital I&C infrastructure and where it goes from here

June 11, 2021, 3:20PMUpdated December 29, 2021, 2:59PMNuclear NewsEric J. Benner and Steven A. Arndt

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The June issue reviewed some topics in human factors and instrumentation and controls such as the article below that looks at the NRC's review of digital instrumentation systems in the current fleet.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commissiona first formally developed infrastructure for the review of digital instrumentation and control (I&C) systems in the 1990s. Although the current fleet of nuclear power plants in the United States was originally designed and constructed with analog systems, the U.S. nuclear industry has for more than 30 years been working to upgrade these older systems with modern digital equipment.

The United States is losing nuclear power when we need it the most

June 4, 2021, 2:49PMUpdated December 29, 2021, 6:03AMNuclear NewsEd Kee

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The May issue reviewed the economics of nuclear power and provided some great articles on nuclear power plant capacity factors, advanced reactor markets, the economic consequences of plant closures, plant closures as an opportunity for industry engagement with local communities, and the article below that looks at why the electricity markets are failing nuclear power plants.

The Biden administration has a goal to decarbonize the U.S. electricity sector by 2035.1 Achieving this goal would require a massive nuclear power build program. The U.S. nuclear power industry’s size and historical success signal that we are in a good position to do this, but at present, the U.S. nuclear fleet is shrinking. Why is this so, and what can be done to turn the trend around?

Road to advanced nuclear: How DOE and industry collaborations are paving the way for advanced nuclear reactors

April 2, 2021, 8:58AMUpdated December 28, 2021, 3:38PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. The April issue reviewed the current state of advanced reactors. This article looks at how the DOE and private industry are working together to realize the benefits of advanced nuclear.

As electric utilities rush to reduce carbon emissions by investing in intermittent renewables such as wind and solar, they often rely heavily on fossil fuels to provide steady baseload power.

More than 60 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated with fossil fuels, especially coal-fired and gas-fired power plants that have the ability to quickly ramp up or ramp down power to follow loads on the electric grid. Most experts agree that even with a radical advancement in energy storage technology, relying exclusively on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels won’t be enough to maintain a stable electric grid and avoid the major impacts of climate change.

Advanced liquid waste processing systems: Safely processing Fukushima’s wastewater

March 19, 2021, 2:07PMUpdated December 28, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJohn Fabian
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station site. Image: Courtesy of TEPCO.

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. March 2021 marked 10 years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan and crippled the Fukushima nuclear station. This article from our March issue remains timely since various news outlets continue to report on the dangers of the Fukushima waste water without providing context to the Japanese plan to discharge the water. The March issue of Nuclear News also included a great review article from Lake Barrett outlining the current status of the decontamination and decommissioning going on at Fukushima.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) became a household name a decade ago as the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, center of the largest nuclear accident in a generation. Now in 2021, as a result of the continuous mitigation efforts, TEPCO is currently storing 1.2 million cubic meters of treated wastewater—and counting—in more than 1,000 large storage tanks on site. This wastewater has been in the spotlight for the past few years since current projections show that storage capacity will run out by 2022.