Nuclear: Building enthusiasm at COP27

November 22, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News
Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm (in purple blazer) and the ANS-sponsored delegates pose in front of the Nuclear for Climate booth at COP27.

Nuclear energy is no longer on the fringes of the international climate conversation. At COP27, the United Nations climate change conference held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18, pronuclear advocates were everywhere—and they were talking to everyone. They populated the International Atomic Energy Agency’s #Atoms4Climate pavilion, the first-ever nuclear pavilion in the 27-year history of the negotiations. Echoing such strong representation, the final statement issued by the conference used language that included nuclear power.

NEXT Lab’s molten salt research reactor inches closer to NRC approval

November 22, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The molten salt test loop at ACU’s NEXT Lab. (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/SteelShutter)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will review a construction permit submitted by the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory at Abilene Christian University for the lab’s planned molten salt research reactor (MSRR). The NRC informed Rusty Towell, director of the NEXT Lab and professor in ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics, about its acceptance of the construction permit review in a November 18 letter. The NEXT Lab had submitted the construction permit application on August 15; it was the first-ever university application for an advanced research reactor. On October 14, they provided the NRC with additional information about instrumentation and controls. (Nuclear News featured an article about the NEXT Lab and the MSRR in the November issue.)

Nuclear waste disposal—What choice do we really have?

November 22, 2022, 6:50AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Taking waste into outer space would require quite large vehicles, like the Saturn 5 rocket shown here carrying the Apollo 14 crew to the moon. A huge fireball forms underneath the rocket . . . hmm, would that be wise? (Source: NASA)

Nuclear waste disposal presents a frustrating problem far beyond its actual danger. No one has ever been harmed by commercial nuclear waste, and no one is likely to ever be harmed.

But we do have to find a final resting place for nuclear waste as it decays away back to the levels of the ore from which it came.

There are several types of nuclear waste: low-­level waste (LLW), intermediate-­level waste (ILW), transuranic waste (TRU; referring only to bomb waste without a lot of ­cesium-­137 or strontium-­90), high-­level waste (HLW; also only bomb waste), and spent nuclear fuel (SNF; from commercial power plants only). In the United States, TRU waste, HLW, and SNF require deep geologic disposal by law.

Bruce Power advances nuclear carbon offset project

November 21, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News
The Bruce Power A and B nuclear power plants. (Photo: CNSC)

Canada’s Bruce Power, operator of the eight-unit Bruce nuclear plant in Kincardine, Ontario, has announced a “made-in-Ontario solution” to the net-zero challenges faced by industries: allowing new incremental nuclear output to be accredited for an avoided emissions benefit.

Virginia Uranium’s new owner hopes to wait out mining moratorium

November 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Coles Hill property location. (Image: Consolidated Uranium)

Consolidated Uranium plans to acquire Virginia Energy Resources, which owns Virginia Uranium and the Coles Hill Uranium Project, an undeveloped uranium deposit that sits under about 3,000 acres of land in south central Virginia. The state’s General Assembly has maintained a moratorium on uranium mining since 1982 that was upheld in the courts as recently as 2020, but Consolidated Uranium sees reason for “confidence that the moratorium on developing uranium projects in the state may ultimately be overcome,” and appears content to settle in for a wait.

Deploy, deploy, deploy: Achieving our climate goals requires nuclear this decade

November 21, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear NewsJigar Shah

Jigar Shah

The Biden-­Harris administration has committed to decarbonizing the power sector by 2035 and the economy by 2050, while creating good jobs and promoting equity. There’s no question that the lowest-­cost, most reliable grid of the future will require clean, firm baseload power to support intermittent renewable energy.

Nuclear is such a reliable source of firm, flexible baseload power for the grid. Energy mix optimization models show that as penetration of renewables (such as solar and wind) grows, required energy storage capacity also grows, leading to increasing cost competitiveness of dispatchable carbon-­free power sources (including low-­impact hydro, geothermal energy, carbon capture and storage, zero-­carbon fuels like hydrogen, and nuclear). Nuclear power is an essential component of America’s transition to a clean electric grid to maintain reliability, resiliency, and affordability.

U.S., Ukraine launch SMR project for clean hydrogen production

November 21, 2022, 7:13AMNuclear News
U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry at COP27. (Photo: Embassy of Ukraine in the United States of America)

U.S. special envoy for climate John Kerry and Ukraine’s minister of energy German Galushchenko have announced a two-to-three-year pilot project aimed at demonstrating the commercial-scale production of clean hydrogen and ammonia from small modular reactors in Ukraine using solid oxide electrolysis.

Importance of environmental monitoring for consent-based siting of nuclear facilities

November 18, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear NewsHaruko Wainwright and Carol Eddy-Dilek

Consent-based siting has become one of the emergent priorities in nuclear energy, particularly for spent fuel storage and high-level waste (HLW) disposal.1 Consent-based siting is based on broad public participation to address the needs and concerns of communities, aiming for equity and environmental justice. While there are some successful examples (Finland and Sweden above all), consent-based siting is not a straightforward process. Although Japan, for example, adopted consent-based siting for their HLW disposal over 20 years ago, it has not yet identified a community to host a repository. Environmental and safety concerns have been the biggest bottleneck for siting nuclear facilities. A recent proposal for the interim storage in Andrews, Texas, for instance, has been opposed by Gov. Greg Abbott and others.

Keystone State lawmakers show interest in SMRs

November 18, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week adopted a resolution directing the Joint State Government Commission to conduct a “holistic” study on the benefits of nuclear energy and small modular reactors. (The JSGC, according to its website, serves as the Pennsylvania General Assembly’s primary research organization, providing the legislature with a readily available mechanism for conducting interdisciplinary studies.) The November 15 vote was unanimous, 197–0.

NRC to review updated North Anna SLR report; public input sought

November 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The North Anna nuclear power plant. (Photo: Stuartmj/Wikipedia)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking public comment on the scope of its supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) concerning Dominion Energy’s subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for North Anna-1 and -2, the agency announced earlier this week.

Artemis I mannequin crew outfitted with dosimeters for trip around the moon

November 18, 2022, 6:53AMNuclear News
A rendering of Helga and Zohar side by side aboard the Orion spacecraft. (Image: NASA/Lockheed Martin/DLR)

NASA’s Artemis I mission, successfully launched at 1:47 a.m. EST on November 16 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, will travel 40,000 miles beyond the moon—farther from Earth than any human-crewed space mission has flown before. The historic trip was launched by the world’s largest rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), nearly 50 years after NASA last sent humans to the moon. And while no humans are on board the Orion spacecraft, two fabricated crew members—“Luna Twins” Helga and Zohar—were assembled with thousands of sensors to obtain the best estimates yet of cosmic radiation exposure to human tissues during space travel.

CP-1 at 80: Preparing for the first controlled nuclear chain reaction

November 17, 2022, 3:08PMNuclear News
From left, the cover of the December 1962 issue of NN, featuring a model and a medal, both displayed at the 1962 ANS Winter Meeting; a photo of CP-1 during construction, as published in the November 1992 issue of NN; the opening page of a chronological account of CP-1, published in November 1992 to mark the 50th anniversary.

As we approach the 80th anniversary of controlled nuclear fission, Nuclear Newswire is prepared to deliver not one but three #ThrowbackThursday posts of CP-1 highlights unearthed from past issues of Nuclear News.

ANS was founded in 1954, nearly 12 years after the first controlled nuclear chain reaction was achieved on December 2, 1942, inside a pile of graphite and uranium assembled on a squash court at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field. By 1962, ANS was prepared to “salute the 20th anniversary of the first chain reaction” at their Winter Meeting, displaying a model of Chicago Pile-1 and presenting a specially cast medal to Walter Zinn, a representative of Enrico Fermi’s scientific team. Over the years, ANS has continued to mark significant anniversaries of CP-1 at national meetings and in NN.

General Fusion marshals CNL support for Canadian fusion power by 2030

November 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
This still image, taken from a General Fusion video, explains the demo plant that will be built near Oxford, U.K. (Image: General Fusion)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and General Fusion have announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to “develop fusion energy research capabilities within CNL, to support the goal of constructing a potential General Fusion commercial power plant in Canada before 2030.” The plant would follow on a demonstration-scale plant that General Fusion wants to have operating in the United Kingdom by 2027 to validate the performance and economics of the technology.

Report touts nuclear energy’s investment attractiveness based on ESG standards

November 17, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy “has exceptional characteristics that make it uniquely qualified to address all three facets of the energy trilemma: affordability, sustainability, and reliability,” according to a new report, Solving the Energy Trilemma: The Case for Nuclear as a Sustainable Investment. Developed by the Center for ESG and Sustainability (CESG), which has a partnership with Columbia University’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society, the report concludes, “Even absent ESG [environmental, social, and governance] considerations, nuclear is an investible asset. However, its strong ESG performance makes the case for investment even stronger.”

Lawmaker releases U.S. nuclear energy “blueprint”

November 17, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

Duncan

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has issued a three-page “Blueprint for Nuclear Innovation and Competitiveness,” highlighting nuclear policy priorities in the areas of licensing and regulatory modernization, financing, and fuel (including used fuel). According to a press release from Duncan’s office, the document aims “to help chart the course for the nuclear energy agenda in the next Congress and facilitate policy discussions among both lawmakers and industry leaders.” Published last week—along with a related “Dear Colleague” letter—the blueprint is also, according to E&E News, “a sign of his ambitions for landing a more senior role with the committee,” including a subcommittee leadership position should the GOP gain control of the House in the next Congress.

West Virginia hospital to correct nuclear medicine violations

November 16, 2022, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Cabell Huntington Hospital system, based in Huntington, W.V., has begun implementing corrective actions associated with nuclear medicine activities, in line with a settlement agreement reached with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agreement stems from NRC inspections at the hospital’s facilities that uncovered 14 violations, described in a June 2022 NRC inspection report. As a result of the hospital taking corrective action, the NRC will not impose civil penalties.

ANS Nuclear Grand Challenge: Using social media to engage the public

November 16, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear NewsAmelia Tiemann

For decades, the nuclear community has fought to win public trust without a whole lot of success. That’s why, back in 2017, public engagement was announced as one of the nine ANS Nuclear Grand Challenges. The challenge focused on the need to transition from a “deficit model” to an “engagement model” approach with the public. Now a new cohort of advocates is taking nuclear communication in an entirely different direction—to the world of social media—and they are having fun doing it.

EXIM signals interest in Romanian nuclear project

November 16, 2022, 9:53AMNuclear News
From left: Romanian minister of energy Virgil Popescu, U.S. Export-Import Bank president and chair Reta Jo Lewis, Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, and U.S. State Department assistant secretary Geoffrey Pyatt. (Photo: ExIm)

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has issued two letters of interest (LOIs) for the financing of U.S.-sourced pre-project technical services in connection with the proposed reactor construction project at Romania’s Cernavoda nuclear plant, the bank announced last week.

U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group resumes meetings

November 16, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group (NSWG) convened for its 11th meeting in early November in Tokyo. The group continued its efforts, begun in 2011, to strengthen global nuclear security and enhance international cooperation in peaceful nuclear activities. The meeting was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NWTRB welcomes new executive director

November 15, 2022, 3:00PMANS News

Ogg

Daniel Ogg, ANS member since 1985, has been selected as the executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.

Earlier in his career, he worked at the U.S. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and served in the U.S. Navy aboard a nuclear-powered submarine.

Ogg has a B.S. in engineering from the University of Washington and an M.S. in nuclear engineering from the University of California—Berkeley.

About the NWTRB: The mission of the NWTRB is to perform unbiased and ongoing technical and scientific peer review of the Department of Energy’s nuclear waste management activities.