U.K. to add 40k nuclear workers

April 1, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

Rishi Sunak, U.K. prime minister, announced plans this week to boost Britain’s nuclear workforce by 40,000 to support submarine building and developing other aspects of the nuclear energy industry.

“In a more dangerous and contested world, the United Kingdom’s continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent is more vital than ever,” Sunak said in a statement. “Today we usher in the next generation of our nuclear enterprise, which will keep us safe, keep our energy secure, and keep our bills down for good.”

More information about the government’s plans are laid out in the Defence Nuclear Enterprise Command policy paper.

James Behrens—ANS member since 1979

April 1, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Left: Behrens as a physics lecturer in 1969 at the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign. Right: Behrens at home today with his new pup Snowflake.

We welcome ANS members who have careered in the community to submit their own Nuclear Legacy stories, so that the personal history of nuclear power can be captured. For information on submitting your stories, contact nucnews@ans.org.

The James Wm. Behrens family legacy in America starts with Henry H. Behrens, who came across the pond from Germany in 1857. He was later joined by Wilhelmina, also from Germany, and they were married in Alton, Ill., in about 1862. One of their sons, George Wm. Sr., was my grandfather. He and his wife, Frances Walker (of Irish and English descent), had three sons, one of whom (George Wm. Jr.) was my father. I was born in 1947 and raised in the small country town of Bunker Hill, Ill. I attended Bunker Hill elementary and high schools, graduating from the latter in 1965.

Labor pact to boost pay, benefits to Oak Ridge cleanup workers

April 1, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
From left, Erik Olds, OREM deputy manager; Jay Mullis, OREM manager; Brandon Bishop, NABTU secretary-treasurer; Sean McGarvey, NABTU president; Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO; William “Ike” White, DOE-EM senior advisor; and Jeff Avery, DOE-EM principal deputy assistant secretary.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced the signing of a project labor agreement (PLA) between Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) contractor UCOR and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The agreement, which allows for flexibility in wage increases and other incentives, is expected to help recruit and retain skilled construction trade workers at the DOE site in Tennessee.

Electron-Ion Collider coming to Brookhaven gets substantial U.K. investment

April 1, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
John Hill, deputy director for science and technology at BNL, with Ruqaiyah Patel, deputy director of UKRI North America, at a recent reception held by UKRI's North America office to mark the funding of the EIC. (Photo: BNL)

The U.S. Department of Energy is constructing the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory to explore the boundaries of nuclear physics—both for the sake of science and to support diverse applications, including in nuclear medicine, radiation safety, and nuclear energy. The project, already supported by international collaborators in 40 countries, just secured a significant commitment from the United Kingdom.

iLAMP: Neutron Absorber Material Monitoring for Spent Fuel Pools

March 29, 2024, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsHatice Akkurt

The spent fuel pool at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant near Spring City, Tenn. (Photo: TVA)

Neutron absorber materials are used by nuclear power plants to maintain criticality safety margins in their spent nuclear fuel pools. These materials are typically in the form of fixed panels of a neutron-absorbing composite material that is placed within the fuel pools. (A comprehensive review of such materials used in wet storage pools and dry storage has been provided by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) [1]).

With increasing plant life, there is a need to maintain or establish a monitoring program for neutron absorber materials—if one is not already in place—as part of aging management plans for reactor spent fuel pools.

Such monitoring programs are necessary to verify that the neutron absorbers continue to provide the criticality safety margins relied upon in the criticality analyses of a reactor’s spent fuel pool. To do this, the monitoring program must be capable of identifying any changes to the material and quantifying those changes. It should be noted that not all the changes (for example minor pitting and blistering of the absorber material) will result in statistically or operationally significant impact on the criticality safety margins.

For monitoring neutron absorber materials in spent fuel pools, until recently, two alternatives existed—coupon testing and in situ measurements. A third option, called industry-wide learning aging management program (i-LAMP), was proposed by EPRI and is currently in the final stages of the regulatory review. The following sections describe these monitoring approaches.

TerraPower submits Natrium construction application to the NRC

March 29, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News

TerraPower today submitted its formal construction permit application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the Natrium reactor demonstration project—a milestone submission for the nation’s first commercial advanced reactor of its kind.

Remembering Joseph M. Hendrie

March 29, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear NewsRobert A. Bari

Joseph M. Hendrie

To those of us who knew Joe, even prior to his appointment as chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it is an understatement to say that he was a larger-than-life member of the nuclear science and technology enterprise. He was best known to the broader community for two major accomplishments: the design and construction of the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the creation of the standard review plan (SRP) for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

In addition to the products of these endeavors becoming major fundaments to their respective communities, they were uniquely Joe. The safety analysis report for the HFBR was written essentially single-handedly by him. This was true of the SRP as well, which became the key safety review document for the NRC as it performed safety reviews for the growing number of power reactor applications in the United States. His deep technical knowledge of nuclear engineering and his extraordinary management skills made this possible.

Direct waste transfer process quickens at Savannah River Site

March 29, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
SRS successfully made the first transfer of decontaminated salt solution directly from one waste processing facility to the other, bypassing a hold tank previously used in the transfer process. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s liquid waste contractor at the Savannah River Site this month marked the first direct transfer of decontaminated waste from the Salt Waste Processing Facility (SWPF) to the Saltstone Production Facility (SPF). This is a new step in optimizing waste processing, according to the DOE.


Can hydrogen be the transportation fuel in an otherwise nuclear economy?

March 28, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Let’s face it: The global economy should be powered primarily by nuclear power. And it probably will by the end of this century, with a still-significant assist from renewables and hydro. Once nuclear systems are dominant, the costs come down to where gas is now; and when carbon emissions are reduced to a small portion of their present state, it will become obvious that most other sources are only good in niche settings. I mean, why use small modular reactors to load-follow when they can just produce that power instead of buffering it?

From South Korea to Belgium: Testing a high-density research reactor fuel

March 28, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Irradiation of test fuel at SCK-CEN's BR2 reactor in Belgium. (Photos: KAERI)

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has developed a high-density uranium silicide fuel designed to replace high-enriched uranium in research reactors. Recent irradiation tests appear to be successful, KAERI reports, which means the fuel could be commercialized to continue a key global nuclear nonproliferation effort—converting research reactors to run on low-enriched uranium fuel.

Remembering Charles E. Till

March 28, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

Charles E. Till

Charles E. Till, an ANS member since 1963 and Fellow since 1987, passed away on March 22 at the age of 89. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Imperial College, University of London. Till initially worked for the Civilian Atomic Power Department of the Canadian General Electric Company, where he was the physicist in charge of the startup of the first prototype CANDU reactor in Canada.

Till joined Argonne National Laboratory in 1963 in the Applied Physics Division, where he worked as an experimentalist in the Fast Critical Experiments program. He then moved to additional positions of increasing responsibility, becoming division director in 1973. Under his leadership, the Applied Physics Division established itself as one of the elite reactor physics organizations in the world. Both the experimental (critical experiments and nuclear data measurements) and nuclear analysis methods work were internationally recognized. Till led Argonne’s participation in the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Evaluation (INFCE), and he was the lead U.S. delegate to INFCE Working Group 5, Fast Breeders.

Why should safeguards by design be a global effort?

March 27, 2024, 3:01PMNuclear NewsJeremy Whitlock

Jeremy Whitlock

I can’t think of a more exciting time to be working in nuclear, with the diversity of advanced reactor development and increasing global support for nuclear in sustainable energy planning. But we can’t lose sight of the need to plan for efficient international safeguards at the same time.

Global nuclear deployment has been underpinned since 1970 by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), making it a key customer requirement for governments to demonstrate unequivocally that the technology is not being misused for weapons development.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has helped verify this commitment for more than 50 years, but it has never safeguarded many of the advanced reactors (and related fuel cycle processes) being developed today.

DOE makes conditional commitment to Palisades’ restoration and resumption of service

March 27, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township, Mich.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) today announced a conditional commitment of up to $1.52 billion for a loan guarantee to Holtec Palisades LLC to finance the restoration and resumption of service of the 800-MWe Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township, Mich.

American Nuclear Society on DOE loan to restart closed Michigan nuclear plant

March 27, 2024, 9:35AMPress Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. The American Nuclear Society (ANS), a nonprofit representing over 10,000 professionals in the fields of nuclear science and technology, issued the following statements regarding today’s announcement of a $1.5 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for repowering the shuttered Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township, Michigan.

Advanced reactors the focus of upcoming ANS online event

March 27, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society is hosting an online event on Thursday, March 28, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. (EDT) on advanced reactors. The latest technological developments will be discussed by representatives from BWX Technology, Kairos Power, Oklo, and X-energy.

The event is open to all, but registration is required.

UC–Berkeley, New Mexico State among universities awarded DOE grants

March 27, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News

The University of California–Berkeley and New Mexico State University have each received financial assistance grants for radioactive waste management projects as part of the Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program (MSIPP), an initiative of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. A total of seven minority serving institutions (MSIs) are to be awarded an estimated total of $24,761,831 in MSIPP grants for the three-year period from April 1, 2024, to March 31, 2027.

GLE picks natural U over HALEU for now, and more updates from U.S. enrichers

March 26, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

On March 26, Silex Systems Ltd. announced that Global Laser Enrichment’s test loop pilot demonstration facility and operational safety programs have been reviewed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and approved for loading uranium hexafluoride feed material in preparation for the next phase of GLE’s enrichment technology demonstration in the second quarter of 2024.

Barakah-4 is connected to the UAE grid

March 26, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Unit 4 at the Barakah nuclear power plant. (Photo: Nawah Energy Company)

The fourth nuclear unit at Barakah power plant in the United Arab Emirates has been “safely and successfully” connected to the nation’s grid, according to an announcement by the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation. ENEC announced the start-up of the 1,400-MWe pressurized water reactor earlier this month. Nawah Energy Company, ENEC’s operating and maintenance subsidiary, runs the facility.

TerraPower bullish on Natrium plant construction

March 26, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

TerraPower officials said last week to expect “dirt moving” at its Wyoming site come June—and for operations to begin there as early as 2030—as it advances plans to build new nuclear in the United States. But 40-plus pages of initial commentary from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the form of a preapplication readiness assessment report, may slow TerraPower’s plans.