DOE issues final rule on Part 810 Civil Penalties

January 16, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has published a final rule in the January 12 Federal Register establishing procedures for the assessment and imposition of civil penalties for certain violations of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended. The rule strengthens the DOE’s ability to enforce regulations governing exports of unclassified civil nuclear technology.

First shipment of surplus plutonium TRU waste sent to WIPP

January 16, 2023, 9:32AMRadwaste Solutions
The first shipment of downblended surplus plutonium from SRS’s K Area leaves SRS. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management have completed the first shipment of downblended surplus plutonium transuranic (TRU) material from the K Area at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

General Fusion demo plant construction will begin this summer

January 16, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear News
A rendering of the planned demo plant. (Image: General Fusion)

The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) announced on January 12 that the South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee approved a planned fusion energy demonstration project at UKAEA’s Culham Campus. UKAEA and General Fusion, the magnetized target fusion company that designed the demo plant, announced that same day that construction will begin this summer, with commissioning planned for 2026 and full operations by early 2027.

Forward fusion: Building a nuclear future in Wisconsin

January 13, 2023, 3:27PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire
SHINE’s isotope production building, called the Chrysalis, under construction in October 2022.

In a former farm field just outside the historic town of Janesville in south-central Wisconsin, a large concrete-and-steel building is taking shape. Dubbed the Chrysalis, the building will eventually house eight accelerator-based neutron generators, which start-up company SHINE Technologies will use to produce molybdenum-99. As the precursor to the medical radioisotope technetium-99m, Mo-99 is used in tens of millions of diagnostic procedures every year, primarily as a radioactive tracer.

At the heart of the Chrysalis will be the high-flux neutron generators, being supplied by SHINE’s sister company, Phoenix. The compact accelerators use a deuterium-tritium fusion process to produce neutrons, which in turn induce a subcritical fission reaction in an aqueous low-enriched uranium target (19.75 percent uranium-235) to produce Mo-99.

The mystery of the hidden uranium: Elementary, my dear Watson?

January 13, 2023, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The discovery of a small amount of uranium inside a package of scrap metal bars at Heathrow Airport in London has raised a number of puzzling questions that are being investigated by Scotland Yard, headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police (the Met). Investigators said that the uranium, which was found by Border Force staff during routine screening at the airport on December 29, originated in Pakistan, though it arrived at Heathrow on a passenger flight from Oman and, according to a January 11 report in the Guardian, was bound for an Iranian-owned business with offices in the United Kingdom.

Kairos makes list of 100 most promising cleantech companies

January 13, 2023, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Kairos Power, an Alameda, Calif.–based advanced reactor developer, announced yesterday that it has been named to Cleantech Group’s list of the 100 most innovative and promising private companies in the cleantech sector for 2023. Cleantech Group is a research and consulting services firm headquartered in San Francisco.

Vibrating pipe causes delay to Vogtle-3 startup

January 13, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 containment in December 2022. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power on January 11 announced yet another delay to the startup of the Unit 3 reactor at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. It’s the latest in a long series of delays to the two-unit construction project at the Waynesboro, Ga., site. (Vogtle-3 was initially supposed to enter service in 2016.)

Project Rover: The original nuclear-powered rocket program

January 12, 2023, 3:02PMNuclear News
A diagram from the January 1963 story depicting a nuclear-powered rocket.

It’s Thursday, meaning it’s time to dig through the Nuclear News archives for another #ThrowbackThursday post. Today’s story goes back 60 years to the January 1963 issue of NN and the cover story “Review of Rover: A nuclear rocket” (p. 9), which reviews the first phase of the nuclear rocket program from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Some quick digging online uncovers a lot of information about Project Rover, most notably, a short 20-minute film on the LANL YouTube page that reviews the project (Historic 1960s Film Describes Project Rover). The description of the video notes that the project was active from 1955 to 1973 and led to the design of multiple reactors suitable for testing, including Pewee 1, and that NASA has a modern nuclear thermal propulsion project based on the Pewee design. So it seems fitting to revisit Project Rover, given that there is today a lot of renewed interest in nuclear propulsion for space exploration.

The opening line from the January 1963 article seems to ring true today— “Provided the U. S. continues her space efforts, nuclear-powered rockets are inevitable”—although that probably didn’t seem likely to the nuclear community after the country’s attention shifted from the Space Race to the Vietnam War in the early 1970s when Project Rover was canceled. The introduction to the article lays out the argument for a nuclear-powered rocket and provides a review of the program since its launch in 1955.

The full article as it appeared in 1963 is reprinted below, but don’t forget, all ANS members have full access to the Nuclear News archives that has decades of great content about all topics on nuclear science and technology. Happy reading!

NorthStar marks milestone in non-uranium production of Mo-99

January 12, 2023, 12:02PMNuclear News
IBA Rhodotron TT300-HE (high energy) electron accelerator. (Photo: Business Wire)

Nuclear medicine company NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes announced that it has successfully produced molybdenum-99 at its recently completed accelerator production facility at its Beloit, Wis., campus. According to NorthStar, the event marks a major milestone in advancing the company’s proprietary electron accelerator technology for the non-uranium–based production of the critical medical radioisotope.

Michigan gets the ball rolling on nuclear feasibility study

January 12, 2023, 10:26AMNuclear News

The Michigan Public Service Commission has requested proposals for a feasibility study on nuclear power generation in the state. Responses to the January 5 request are due January 19, with the proposals themselves due February 3. The selected firm is to deliver a report to Michigan’s governor and leaders of the state’s legislature by April 2024.

Southern Company makes executive appointments

January 12, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
From left: Womack, Greene, and Sena. (Photos: Southern Company)

Southern Company has appointed Chris Womack chief operating officer effective immediately and president as of March 31. Tom Fanning will relinquish the role of president upon Womack's assumption of the role in March and is to assume the role of executive chairman of the board of directors.

Womack has served as president of Georgia Power since 2020 and chairman, president, and CEO since 2021. Prior to his current roles, he served as executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company.

"Chris's leadership, vision, and integrity during his career with Southern Company have uniquely prepared him to guide Southern Company into a new era," said Fanning. "With our recent progress at Plant Vogtle and continued conversion of our operations towards net zero emissions, I believe that now is an ideal time to transition to new leadership."

The moves were announced by the company's board on January 5.

Tokamak Energy and Furukawa Electric sign agreement to advance commercial fusion energy

January 11, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Tokamak Energy announced today that it has signed an agreement with Furukawa Electric Co., of Tokyo, Japan, and the Furukawa Electric Group's SuperPower Inc, of New York, for supply of several hundred kilometers of specialist high temperature superconducting (HTS) tape for Tokamak's new advanced prototype fusion device, ST80-HTS.

ITER leaders outline plan for component repairs and replacements

January 11, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The cooling pipes that snake along the surface of the vacuum vessel thermal shield will be removed and replaced. Here, on a right-hand outboard panel, workers determine the impact of pipe removal on the surface of the component. (Photo: ITER Organization)

ITER’s machine assembly phase began about two and a half years ago. Now, staff are reversing some of that assembly work to make needed repairs. According to a news article published by the ITER Organization on January 9, ITER is “facing challenges common to every industrial venture involving first-of-a-kind components.” Over one year after problems were first detected and less than two months after they were made public in late November, tests and analysis are producing a clearer picture of necessary repairs to the tokamak’s thermal shield panels and vacuum vessel sectors.

“There is no scandal here,” said ITER director general Pietro Barabaschi. “Such things happen. I've seen many issues of the kind, and much worse.”

World’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship to be decommissioned

January 11, 2023, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions
The NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. (Photo: NARA)

The U.S. Department of Transportation has drafted a programmatic agreement (PA) on the decommissioning the NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship. Christened in 1959 under President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace initiative, which challenged world leaders to develop peaceful uses of nuclear power, the ship served as a demonstration project for the potential maritime use of nuclear energy.

The 2023 Nuclear News energy quiz

January 11, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Are you an energy genius? It’s hard to tell whether or not Americans are really aware of the energy that controls our lives, so the following quiz should be revealing. Click through the multiple-choice options below to reveal the answers.

Scoring: Zero to five correct answers out of the 23 questions means you may need to read up on energy so you’re not at the mercy of others. A score of 6 to 10 correct answers is a good passing grade. Answer 11 to 15 correctly, and you’re really energy literate. Getting 16 to 19 correct means you should be advising Congress. Twenty or more right answers suggests you’re Spock reincarnated.

Paducah breaks ground on new site emergency operations center

January 10, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Construction is underway on the Paducah Site's new Emergency Operations Center. (Photo: DOE)

Construction crews at the Department of Energy's Paducah Site in Kentucky have broken ground on a new Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to improve coordination and response to emergencies across the site.

The 3,500-square-foot facility will replace the existing EOC, which was established in the site’s C-300 Control Building around 1990. The C-300 Control Building was built during the 1950s. The new modern facility will be used to monitor environmental conditions and house emergency management personnel.

The new EOC is scheduled for completion in this year.

A video is available on the construction of the new EOC.

NNSA's minority serving institution program looks to strengthen skilled workforce

January 10, 2023, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP) has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) titled "Community and Junior College Trade Occupation Program." The FOA encourages grant applications from tribal and minority serving community and junior colleges that diversify student and faculty populations, enhance training programs in trade and skilled labors, and increase the capacity of the NNSA's nuclear security enterprise workforce.

Eligible tribal and minority serving community and junior colleges have until February 17, 2023, 11:50 p.m. EST to respond to the FOA with proposals.

From the pages of Nuclear News : Industry update

January 10, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News

Here is a recap of industry happenings over the past month:


X-energy enters into agreement to become publicly traded company

X-energy, a developer of small modular reactors and nuclear fuel technology, has entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Ares Acquisition Corporation, a publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company. As a result of the agreement, X-energy will become a publicly traded company, a status that is expected to give a boost to its growth strategy, investment opportunities, and financial flexibility. In addition, X-energy will receive differentiated sponsorship by Ares Management Corporation, which describes itself as a “leading global alternative investment manager.” The existing equity holders of X-energy are expected to hold more than 60 percent of the issued and outstanding shares of the common stock of the combined company. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of 2023.

NuScale submits second SDA application to NRC

January 10, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News

NuScale Power has announced its submission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of a standard design approval application for its updated small modular reactor design, which is based on a six-module VOYGR plant configuration powered by an uprated 77-MWe module.

NEDHO's academic program fact sheets

January 9, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization has made its members' academic fact sheets available for 2022.

Each year, NEDHO's academic institutions share information about their programs through the use of concise summaries that provide a brief overview of each program and include important statistics such as faculty and student numbers, research expenditures, and more.