60 years of headlines from the Advanced Test Reactor

March 24, 2022, 3:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Cover of the April 1962 issue of Nuclear News (left), ATR core diagram appearing in October 1969 issue of Nuclear News (center), and cover of the October 1969 issue of Nuclear News (right).

The Department of Energy and Idaho National Laboratory announced this week that the sixth major core overhaul of the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) is complete, after an 11-month outage that began in April 2021. The ATR was built as a key piece of mission support for U.S. Navy programs and first reached full power in 1969. Today it remains “the world’s largest, most powerful and flexible materials test reactor,” in the words of INL—quite a feat for a reactor that was planned over 60 years ago.

The case of the Pu-powered pacemaker

January 20, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The cover of the August 1969 issue of Nuclear News (left), an image of Brunhilde, the dog that had the first nuclear-powered pacemaker in the U.S. (center) and the cover of the December 1970 Nuclear News (right).

In this first installment of a #ThrowbackThursday post, Nuclear News provides a review of radioisotope-powered pacemakers in response to an article in The Wall Street Journal. The article, published earlier this week, looks at the issue of disposing of nuclear-powered pacemakers, although considering how few are still in use today, it seems like this is really much ado about nothing.

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.

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).

Tennessee-85 students to receive inaugural Social Responsibility award from ANS

October 4, 2021, 12:01PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society has selected a group of Black former students known as the Tennessee-85 to receive the inaugural Social Responsibility in the Nuclear Community Award. The 85 former students are receiving the honor in recognition of their bravery and leadership displayed in desegregating an Oak Ridge school in Tennessee in 1955. A co-recipient of the award is the Secretary of Energy for the leadership displayed by the Atomic Energy Commission (now the Department of Energy) in ordering the all-white Oak Ridge public schools to integrate that year. The award will be presented at the upcoming ANS Winter Meeting.

Woke nuclear?

September 15, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeMaureen T. Koetz

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

After decades of relinquishing its value and return on investment as “emission-free” electricity generation, segments of the nuclear industry are pursuing actions in several states to secure emission credits for avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. To harmonize electricity market stability and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, states such as New York and New Jersey have enacted programs to award zero emission credits (ZECs) to nuclear plants for their emission-free output.

Dearly earned and too long forgone, air emission credits have been the economic birthright of the nuclear industry since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments, when emission control capability first became a tradable commodity. Yet it took until 2016 for ratepayers and shareholders to receive even a small fraction of this valuable return on investment.

Nuclear Plant Construction Delay and Cost 3

November 2, 2018, 5:24PMANS Nuclear CafeWill Davis

Reactor vessel delivered to Calvert Cliffs; from brochure in Will Davis collection.

The year 1971 saw a continuation of the general trend of rising capital costs for all types of power plants, described by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in its publication for 1971 as having "risen rather rapidly."  According to the AEC, the aggregate major causes for the increases in costs specific to nuclear electric power plants were as follows, with author's analysis accompanying each: