DOE awards $3 billion WIPP M&O contract to Bechtel affiliate

July 13, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico.

Reston, Va.-based Tularosa Basin Range Services (TBRS), a single-purpose entity under the umbrella of Bechtel National, has been awarded the 10-year, $3 billion management and operating contract for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM). Located near Carlsbad, N.M., WIPP is the DOE’s geologic repository for defense-generated transuranic waste.

The new contract replaces the current WIPP M&O contract held by Nuclear Waste Partnership, which expires on September 30. The contract with TBRS was announced on July 11.

EDF makes latest move to build EPRs in Poland

June 28, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Électricité de France has signed cooperation agreements with five Polish companies as it continues its efforts to be named the large-reactor supplier for Poland’s incipient nuclear power program.

Polish firms Polimex Mostostal, Sefako, Tele-Fonika Kable, Uniserv, and ZRE Katowice inked the pacts at the fifth Polish-French Nuclear Industry Day in Ołtarzew, Poland. According to EDF, the event was held to foster collaboration between Polish and French companies in support of the utility giant’s offer to deliver four to six EPRs for the Polish program.

Bechtel, Toshiba partner on Polish nuclear project

June 15, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Bechtel’s Ahmet Tokpinar (right) at the MOU signing ceremony with Toshiba executives Yuki Arima (left) and Kentaro Takagi. (Photo: Bechtel)

Engineering, construction, and project management firm Bechtel Corporation last week announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Toshiba America Energy Systems and Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions to pursue a civil nuclear power plant project in Poland.

Meltdown: Drama disguised as a documentary

June 3, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJohn Fabian
The cooling towers of Unit 2 at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station, closed since the accident in 1979.

The Three Mile Island accident in 1979 was the most-studied nuclear reactor event in the U.S. There is a plethora of research about the accident available to the general public, including the president-appointed Kemeny Commission report and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Rogovin inquiry report (split into volume one, and volume two, parts one, two, and three), which are the two detailed government-sponsored investigations into the accident. There are also thousands of documents in the NRC’s ADAMS database available to the public, an excellent overview by NRC historian Samuel Walker Three Mile Island: A Nuclear Crisis in Historical Perspective, as well as the Nuclear News special report from April 1979, and articles written by ANS members like William Burchill about the accident and the many changes it forced on the industry. If the producers of Meltdown: Three Mile Island—available on Netflix—had read any of those documents instead of relying mostly on input from antinuclear activists, their “documentary” might have been presented with at least some sense of balance and credibility.

Instead, similar to a recent Science Channel documentary on the Three Mile Island accident, Meltdown focuses on drama instead of science. This four-part miniseries does not attempt to provide a balanced set of facts from the technical community and instead relies heavily on nonexpert opinions and anecdotal statements to tell a story that easily falls apart under even the faintest scrutiny.

Nuclear News reached out to multiple ANS members who were involved with either the accident response or the clean up to help provide a critical look at some of the more egregious statements made in the documentary.

Insights from the Three Mile Island accident—Part 2: Improvements

May 6, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear NewsWilliam E. Burchill

Part one of this article, published in the May 2019 issue of Nuclear News[1] and last Friday on Nuclear Newswire, presented insights from the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island-­2 and addressed several issues raised by a previous Nuclear News piece on the accident[2]. Part two discusses safety improvements that have been made by both the industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the past 40 years.

Bechtel teams up with Polish companies for new nuclear build

April 29, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Mark Brzezinski, U.S. ambassador to Poland, and John Howanitz, president of Bechtel’s nuclear, security, and environmental global business unit, address representatives of 12 Polish companies that signed memorandums of understanding with Bechtel for the potential development of Poland’s civil nuclear program. (Photo: Bechtel)

Bechtel has signed memorandums of understanding with a dozen Polish companies for the potential development of two nuclear power plants as Poland seeks to lessen its dependence on domestic coal and Russian imports for its energy supply.

The MOUs were signed on April 25 during a ceremony at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Warsaw. Offering services ranging from earthwork and infrastructure construction to concrete, tunneling, electrical installations, and heavy cranes, the 12 Polish firms are BAKS, Budimex, Doraco, Energoprojekt-Katowice, Hitachi Energy Poland, ILF, KB Pomorze, Mostostal Warzsawa, Polimex Mostostal, Protea Group, Vistal Gdynia, and Zarmen.

Environmental report submitted for Poland’s first nuclear plant

April 4, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

Polskie Elektrownie Jadrowe (PEJ)—the state-owned company set up to lead Poland’s effort to build nuclear power plants—has submitted an environmental impact report to the country’s General Directorate for Environmental Protection regarding the construction and operation of the first such facility, which is to have a total capacity of up to 3,750 MWe.

Three U.S. firms partner to support Polish energy transition

February 25, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Bechtel and Westinghouse Electric Company on February 23 announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with GE Steam Power to explore opportunities in their joint pursuit of civil nuclear power projects in Poland.

The preferred site for Poland’s initial foray into nuclear power, chosen last December, is Lubiatowo-Kopalino, near the Baltic coast. Bechtel and Westinghouse are preparing a front-end engineering design for the site, supported by a grant from the United States Trade and Development Agency.

Czech Republic’s energy future includes nuclear, renewables, says new government

January 11, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Temelin nuclear power plant in Czech Republic.

In a wide-ranging “program statement” laying out its policy priorities, the Czech Republic’s new, center-right government has endorsed nuclear energy and renewables and called for power generation from coal to be phased out by 2033.

The final version of the statement was released on January 7 by the five-party coalition government, sworn into office last month and led by Prime Minister Petr Fiala, head of the Civic Democratic Party.

Polish suppliers wanted for AP1000 project

October 11, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

Some 200 Polish business leaders gathered in Warsaw earlier this month to discuss local supply chain opportunities with two U.S. companies hoping to become major players in Poland’s nascent civil nuclear power program.

The companies, Westinghouse and industry partner Bechtel, hosted their second nuclear supply symposium on October 5, touting Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor technology.

Pipeline connecting Hanford tank farm to Vit Plant completed

August 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford workers fit sections of double-walled pipe in place, connecting the site’s tank farms to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. (Screen shot: WRPS/YouTube)

The Department of Energy is celebrating a major milestone in its tank waste mission at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. DOE tank operations contractor Washington River Protection Solutions has finished construction of the pipeline that will carry treated waste from an underground tank to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) for vitrification.

Former secretary of state George Shultz dies at 100

February 8, 2021, 10:32AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Schultz

George P. Shultz, a former U.S. secretary of state who played a central role in helping bring the Cold War to an end, died Saturday at 100, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University announced.

ANS connection: Shultz, an ANS member, was honored during the 2020 ANS Virtual Winter Meeting with a celebration of his 100th birthday. He provided recorded comments on the increasing challenges facing policy decisions related to climate change, artificial intelligence, and advanced manufacturing/3D printing. Former senator Sam Nunn reviewed Shultz’s “500 years' worth” of accomplishments and service to the United States.

ANS has issued a statement on the passing of George Schultz.

Hitachi sunsets Horizon

January 12, 2021, 11:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Hitachi Ltd. plans to close Horizon Nuclear Power, its U.K. nuclear development subsidiary, early this spring, according to weekend news reports. Horizon is the firm behind Wylfa Newydd, the proposed nuclear new-build project in Wales.

On January 10, citing a story that appeared earlier that day in The Times, Yahoo reported that Hitachi will close Horizon by March 31—a move, Yahoo said, that “could scupper a sale of the [Wylfa Newydd] site, which has attracted interest from bidders, including a U.S. consortium of Bechtel, Southern Company, and Westinghouse, and dent [the] U.K.’s clean energy goals.”

However, a January 11 item on a Welsh online news service stated, “It is understood that if a sale of the site is not secured before Horizon shuts, the sale process will be continued by Hitachi.”

DOE tags INL as “preferred alternative” to host the Versatile Test Reactor

November 19, 2020, 3:16PMNuclear News

Rendering of the proposed Versatile Test Reactor. Image: Idaho National Laboratory

The Department of Energy won’t publish its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) until mid-December. In a November 19 announcement on Twitter, however, the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy said that the yet-to-be-released EIS lists Idaho National Laboratory as the preferred alternative to site the VTR.

The DOE plans to submit the draft EIS for public comments early next month. The DOE won’t make a final decision on the design, technology selection, and location for the VTR until the completion of the EIS and record of decision in late 2021.

U.S. companies said to be in talks with U.K. on Welsh nuclear project

November 11, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

Artist's concept of the Wylfa Newydd project. Image: Horizon Nuclear Power

The London-based newspaper Financial Times is reporting that a consortium of U.S. firms is holding discussions with the U.K. government to revive Wylfa Newydd, the nuclear new-build project in Wales from which Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. withdrew in September. According to the November 10 FT story—which is based on an anonymous source—the consortium is led by Bechtel and includes Southern Company and Westinghouse.

ARDP picks divergent technologies in Natrium, Xe-100: Is nuclear’s future taking shape?

October 14, 2020, 7:21AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy has put two reactor designs—TerraPower’s Natrium and X-energy’s Xe-100—on a fast track to commercialization, each with an initial $80 million in 50-50 cost-shared funds awarded through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). In all, the DOE plans to invest $3.2 billion—with matching funds from industry—over the seven-year demonstration program, subject to future appropriations.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette announced the awards late in the day on October 13 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and said, “These awards are a critical first step of a program that will strengthen our nation’s nuclear energy and technological competitiveness abroad, and position our domestic industry for growth, for increased job creation, and for even more investment opportunity. It’s absolutely vital that we make progress on this technology now.”

“Critical decision” keeps Versatile Test Reactor on target

September 24, 2020, 3:05PMNuclear News

The proposed Versatile Test Reactor complex would cover about 20 acres. Image: INL

Now that the Department of Energy has approved Critical Decision 1 for the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) project, the engineering design phase can begin once Congress appropriates funding, according to a September 23 announcement from the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The DOE has requested $295 million for the project in fiscal year 2021.

The news came nearly one month after a team led by Bechtel National Inc. (BNI), and including GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and TerraPower, entered into contract negotiations with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) for the design-and-build phase of the VTR. GEH’s sodium-cooled fast reactor PRISM technology was selected to support the VTR program in November 2018.

TerraPower, Centrus, and Duke Energy talk tech and collaboration

September 23, 2020, 3:01PMNuclear News

Three companies that are part of a larger collaboration to develop and demonstrate Natrium, the fast reactor design recently introduced by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), were invited to participate in a webinar hosted by ClearPath to talk about Natrium’s design, fuel requirements, and load-following potential.

The September 21 webinar, titled “Natrium: Latin for Sodium, Big for Advanced Nuclear,” was moderated by Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath, and featured TerraPower’s Chris Levesque and Tara Neider, Centrus Energy’s Dan Poneman, and Duke Energy’s Chris Nolan.

TerraPower’s Natrium pairs a sodium fast reactor with heat storage

September 2, 2020, 3:00PMNuclear News

An artist’s rendering of Natrium. Image: TerraPower

The Natrium reactor and energy system architecture, recently introduced by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), offers baseload electricity output from a 345-MWe sodium fast reactor with the load-following flexibility of molten salt thermal storage. Stored heat can be used to boost the system’s output to 500 MWe for more than five and a half hours when needed, according to TerraPower. A company representative told Nuclear News that the company expects a commercial Natrium plant to cost $1 billion or less.

Negotiations to build Versatile Test Reactor under way

August 27, 2020, 7:05AMNuclear News

Artist’s rendering of the Versatile Test Reactor. INL Image

A team led by Bechtel National Inc. (BNI) that includes GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and TerraPower is in contract negotiations with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) for the design-and-build phase of the Versatile Test Reactor, BEA announced on August 24. As planned, the VTR would support irradiation testing of fuels, materials, and equipment designed for advanced reactors.