Belgium’s nuclear phase-out policy claims second victim

February 2, 2023, 10:34AMNuclear News
The Tihange nuclear power plant. (Photo: Engie Electrabel)

Unit 2 at Tihange, one of Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, was permanently disconnected from the grid late on the evening (local time) of January 31, operator Engie Electrabel has announced.

The 1,008-MWe pressurized water reactor is the second unit in Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet to be retired in accordance with the country’s 20-year-old law mandating a gradual phase-out of nuclear power. The first Belgian unit to be retired, Doel-3, a 1,006-MWe PWR, was shut down on September 23, 2022. Remaining in operation are Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1 and -3.

Idaho’s IWTU resumes heat-up following repairs

February 2, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste SolutionsJohn Fabian

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that heat-up of Idaho’s Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) resumed in January. Crews began heating the IWTU in December in preparation of radiological operations, but the facility was shut down 10 days later after operators noticed a small leak of nonradioactive material inside one of the unit’s processing cells.

Located at the DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory Site, the IWTU is intended to treat Idaho’s 900,000 gallons of sodium-bearing liquid waste, converting it to a solid using a steam-reforming process.

After repairs were made to the IWTU equipment responsible for the leak, crews removed a partial obstruction that was in a line into the carbon reduction reformer, a key treatment vessel in the steam-reforming process, EM said.

Registration is open for NRC’s RIC

February 1, 2023, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened registration for its 35th annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC 2023) The conference, themed “Navigating the Nuclear Future,” will be held March 14–16 in North Bethesda, Md., and will be the first in-person RIC since 2019, although the event will also be accessible virtually.

Register now. Registration, which is required to attend, can be completed by filling out the conference registration online form. The conference is free to the public.

Cs-137 sealed source found in Western Australia

January 31, 2023, 3:00PMUpdated February 1, 2023, 11:58AMRadwaste Solutions

A rendering of the sealed source capsule’s appearance. (Image: DFES)

Australian emergency services has located the lost sealed source, the BBC reported early February 1.

The cesium-137 capsule, part of a density gauge used at Rio Tinto’s Gudai-Darri mine in Western Australia, was found after a survey vehicle travelling at 70 km/h (43 mph) detected radiation, according to the report. According to Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, the capsule was located on the roadside of the Great Northern Highway, south of Newman. A serial number verified it was the lost source.

Last week, as reported yesterday by Nuclear Newswire, Australian authorities began searching 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) of Australia’s Great Northern Highway, between Perth and the remote town of Newman, for a lost sealed-source capsule containing cesium-137. The source was part of a density gauge used by mining company Rio Tinto at its mining operations in Western Australia.

Northern States Power applies for Monticello SLR

February 1, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Xcel Energy’s Monticello plant.

How can SMRs fit energy and climate priorities for industry?

February 1, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear NewsEdward Stones

Edward Stones

At my company, Dow, we understand and embrace our responsibility to reduce global carbon emissions. With that said, the challenge to decarbonize is significant but achievable. To give you a sense of the scale required for us to decarbonize in order to make our products, we produce more than 7 GW of power and steam that fire more than 50 gas and steam turbines and boilers. Moreover, we have more than 100 furnaces at 30 major manufacturing sites worldwide.

Dow has already reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent since 2005, and we are on track to reduce emissions another 15 percent by the end of the decade on our path to carbon neutrality by 2050. Our use of clean energy has contributed significantly to our current progress, as we are one of the top 20 users of renewable energy among global corporations, having secured more than 900 MW of renewable power. While we will continue to pursue renewable energy, there’s a limitation in the ability for renewables to support our decarbonization efforts.

Bringing 2022 ANS Standards Committee successes into the new year

January 31, 2023, 12:01PMANS NewsPat Schroder

By all accounts, 2022 brought many successes for the American Nuclear Society’s Standards Committee, including the initiation of five projects, reaffirmation of 11 current standards, and publication of seven new or revised standards. The entire collection of ANS current standards has been approved or reaffirmed (reapproved without change) by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) within the past five years, keeping ANS in 100 percent compliance with ANSI’s requirement on maintaining current American National Standards. Also, the ANS standards program was reaccredited by ANSI on August 19, 2022, with the approval of a revised set of rules and procedures. ANS’s new rules and procedures take advantage of the opportunity to develop standards-related technical reports that may be registered with ANSI.

The legacy of Experimental Breeder Reactor-I

January 31, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire
On December 20, 1951, EBR-I became the first power plant to produce usable electricity through atomic fission. It powered four 200-watt light bulbs and eventually generated enough electricity to light the entire facility. (Photo: DOE)

"At 1:23 p.m. load dissipaters from the generator were connected—electricity flows from atomic energy.” These were the words Walter Zinn wrote in the log after the first four light bulbs were illuminated by nuclear energy. The year was 1951, and the EBR-­I was about to show the world what nuclear energy had to offer.

Court dismisses challenges to Texas SNF storage facility

January 31, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of ISP’s proposed interim storage facility in West Texas. (Image: ISP)

A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by environmental groups challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the NRC reasonably applied its hearing regulations when approving Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) license for the facility.

25th anniversary of failure (and a chance at opportunity)

January 30, 2023, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeLake Barrett

Silver anniversaries are usually a cause for great celebration, but this one is a cause for regret and a renewed plea for action. January 31, 2023, marks the 25th anniversary of the Department of Energy’s failure under law and contract to start the removal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from the country’s 74 commercial nuclear power plant sites in 35 states for disposal per the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. I personally know the moral and legal responsibility associated with this failure, because in 1998, as the then responsible DOE official, I had to personally announce it. But much has changed since then. There are many new avenues to address these past problems like federal, state, and community partnerships that can be beneficial for all, if there is DOE leadership and congressional action for both disposal and storage.

ANS webinar previews five CONTE 2023 presentations

January 30, 2023, 12:00PMANS News

The Conference on Nuclear Training and Education: A Biennial International Forum (CONTE 2023) is still a few weeks off, but ANS offered a preview during a webinar on January 19. Moderated by Billy Wilson, senior engineer of nuclear training (for eLearning) at Ontario Power Generation, the webinar featured four panelists who discussed their upcoming presentations that will be delivered at CONTE 2023.

Framatome, Ultra Safe partner to manufacture TRISO and FCM fuel

January 30, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Framatome and Ultra Safe Nuclear announced on January 26 that they intend to form a joint venture to manufacture commercial quantities of tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particles and Ultra Safe’s proprietary fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel.

The companies have signed a nonbinding agreement to integrate their resources to bring commercially viable, fourth-generation nuclear fuel to market for Ultra Safe’s micro-modular reactor (MMR) and other advanced reactor designs.

Nuclear energy: enabling production of food, fiber, hydrocarbon biofuels, and negative carbon emissions

January 27, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear NewsCharles W. Forsberg and Bruce E. Dale

In the 1960s, Alvin Weinberg at Oak Ridge National Laboratory initiated a series of studies on nuclear agro-­industrial complexes1 to address the needs of the world’s growing population. Agriculture was a central component of these studies, as it must be. Much of the emphasis was on desalination of seawater to provide fresh water for irrigation of crops. Remarkable advances have lowered the cost of desalination to make that option viable in countries like Israel. Later studies2 asked the question, are there sufficient minerals (potassium, phosphorous, copper, nickel, etc.) to enable a prosperous global society assuming sufficient nuclear energy? The answer was a qualified “yes,” with the caveat that mineral resources will limit some technological options. These studies were defined by the characteristic of looking across agricultural and industrial sectors to address multiple challenges using nuclear energy.

Contract for Darlington SMR project signed

January 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor. (Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy)

Wilmington, N.C.–based GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Canadian firms Ontario Power Generation, SNC-Lavalin, and Aecon announced this morning the signing of a contract for the deployment of a BWRX-300 small modular reactor at OPG’s Darlington nuclear site in Canada. According to the announcement, it is the first commercial contract for a grid-scale SMR in North America.

First Light Fusion wants to operate a net gain inertial fusion machine in 2027

January 27, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nicholas Hawker of First Light Fusion and Ian Chapman of UKAEA. (Photo: UKAEA)

Ignition and net gain at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) in December 2022 focused global attention on the prospects of inertial fusion energy (IFE). First Light Fusion and the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) acknowledged the achievement as they announced plans on January 25 to design and build a demonstration facility known as Machine 4 at UKAEA’s Culham Campus in Oxford, U.K., using First Light’s “projectile approach” to IFE. Construction is expected to begin in 2024, and operations are “likely to commence” in 2027.

Deadline approaching for abstract submissions to the 2023 NETS conference

January 27, 2023, 7:01AMANS News

This year the American Nuclear Society’s Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space (NETS 2023) conference, which will be held May 7–11, 2023, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is focusing on powering the next era of space exploration through nuclear-enabled technologies and is sure to be the can’t-miss event of the year for those in the aerospace community.

A fateful day for nuclear waste policy: January 31, 1998

January 26, 2023, 3:12PMNuclear News

Next week will mark 25 years since January 31, 1998, a familiar date to most in the nuclear community, and revisited in today’s #ThrowbackThursday post with an article from the March 1998 issue of Nuclear News. “Those in the nuclear power industry are aware of the significance of the date January 31, 1998. ln the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, that date was set as the deadline for the U.S. government—more specifically, the Department of Energy—to begin taking possession of and responsibility for spent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants nationwide” (NN, March 1998, p. 59).

NRC announces setback to Diablo Canyon license renewal

January 26, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced January 24 that it will not resume its review of Pacific Gas & Electric’s withdrawn Diablo Canyon license renewal application. This decision is a new setback in the long-running effort to extend the life of the plant.