Elettra designated an IAEA collaborating center

A collaborating center agreement was signed by Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste and the International Atomic Energy Agency in May. The agreement focuses on advanced light sources and will support countries in research, development, and capacity building in the application of advanced and innovative radiation technologies.

Letter from the CEO

Making the best of the "new normal"

Craig Piercy


Dear ANS Members,

In the midst of a global pandemic, it feels insufficient somehow to begin a letter with the oft-used expression of hope that it “finds you well.” We are all affected by COVID-19 in some way that makes us less “well” in our lives, whether caused by the virus itself or the socioeconomic ramifications of our response to it. Perhaps it is more realistic for me to hope that you and your family are healthy, generally well-provisioned, and gainfully occupied as we all, collectively and individually, find a way to make the best of our “new normal.”

President's Column

Staying positive

Marilyn Kray

What can be said that hasn’t already been said about these “uncertain times”? There are numerous mottos and catchphrases out there. I choose to follow this one: “Stay home. Stay positive.”

I’ve been staying home, which is quite a change for me since I spent over half of the first two months of 2020 traveling. It all came to a screeching halt in early March. Working remotely is not that different for me, as I’m used to working in hotels and on planes. The biggest difference is that when my husband walks by and I order a Diet Coke and extra pretzels, he doesn’t respond like an American Airlines flight attendant!

IAEA COVID-19 project draws more than $28 million in funding

A health worker at the IAEA Seibersdorf Laboratories in Austria packs a COVID-19 support equipment package, which includes personal protective equipment, PCR machines, reagents, and laboratory consumables. Photo: D. Calma/IAEA

An initiative by the International Atomic Energy Agency to help nearly 120 countries contain the COVID-19 pandemic has received a financial boost from member states and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited.

The IAEA announced on May 13 that Takeda, a biopharmaceutical company based in Tokyo, donated 500 million yen (about US$4.7 million). Two days earlier, the IAEA announced that pledges from more than 10 member nations totaled €22 million (about US$23.8 million).

Feature Story

Waste Management Conference: Focused on the future

2020 Waste Management Conference plenary speakers included (from left) Michael Lempke, of Huntington Ingalls Industries, William Magwood, of the NEA, and the DOE’s William “Ike” White. Photo: WM Symposia/Flash Gordon.

The 2020 Waste Management Conference, held March 8–12 in Phoenix, Ariz., kicked off just days before the World Health Organization declared the spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic. When the conference began, it was still unclear how extensive the coronavirus outbreak would be, and meeting organizers later learned that two attendees were tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the days following the meeting. Fortunately, neither of the attendees tested positive.

NRC declines call to suspend public proceedings

A request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it suspend all rulemakings and other activities involving public comment or participation has failed to receive the petitioners’ desired response from the agency.

In a letter dated April 8, representatives of 82 largely antinuclear organizations—including Beyond Nuclear, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Public Citizen, and the Sierra Club—argue that the public’s role in NRC rulemaking and licensing decisions is not being properly protected during the coronavirus pandemic.

Global nuclear output expected to drop due to COVID-19

Birol

Nuclear energy demand and output could be reduced by 2.5 percent this year compared with 2019, according to the report Global Energy Review 2020 from the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report states that global nuclear power generation fell by about 3 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, adding that the decline was due to lower electricity demand as well as delays for planned maintenance and construction of several projects.

Vogtle work slows, but start dates remain

The Vogtle-3 containment vessel in March. Photo: Georgia Power

Despite its recent decision to trim the workforce at the Vogtle reactor construction project by about 20 percent to better address the COVID-19 pandemic, Southern Company is confident that Units 3 and 4—twin AP 1000 pressurized water reactors—will be up and running according to schedule.

BWXT makes progress on TRISO production restart

BWX Technologies has announced the successful formation and sintering of uranium oxycarbide (UCO) fuel kernels that, once coated, will make up the fissile core of TRISO (tristructural isotropic) fuel particles. With that process demonstrated, BWXT has shifted the focus of its TRISO production restart to bringing two more furnaces online—an additional sintering furnace, used to apply heat and pressure to a solid fuel kernel, and a coating furnace.

NRC launches webpage for COVID-19 exemptions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation has created a web portal for nuclear reactor licensees to submit regulatory exemption requests related to the coronavirus pandemic. At this writing, the COVID-19 Regulatory Activities for Nuclear Reactors webpage is offering online submissions for 10 CFR Part 26 work-hour exemption requests.

Pandemic prompts cuts to Vogtle construction workforce

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia Power Company is reducing the number of workers at its Vogtle-3 and -4 construction site, in Waynesboro, Ga., by approximately 20 percent, according to a recent joint Securities and Exchange Commission filing by the company and parent firm Southern Company.

ANS is your nuclear resource during COVID-19

This story was updated on April 29 with details about the ANS Annual Meeting.

The American Nuclear Society remains committed to serving the needs of the nuclear community even as the COVID-19 pandemic affects how we all communicate. Read on to learn more about the timely content that ANS is delivering to fit the way you live and work today.

Piercy talks with E&E about the nuclear community and ANS

An interview with ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy is featured on E&E News’ EnergyWire online publication. Piercy discussed issues facing the nuclear community, including COVID-19 challenges at power plants, the role of nuclear in the future, and politics on Capitol Hill.

Pandemic halts or slows work at uranium facilities

Several companies involved in the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle have announced temporary shutdowns or staffing reductions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the modest increase in uranium spot prices triggered by production cuts could be a silver lining, uranium prices are still below a level that would prompt idled mines to get back in production once public health mandates are lifted.

The uranium market is global, and it should come as no surprise that a global pandemic is having an impact on facilities around the world, including in the following countries.

NRC agrees to postpone licensee fee collection

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will defer collecting fees and charges from its licensees due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a letter from NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki to a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The letter states, “The commission has approved a 90-day deferral of all annual fee (10 CFR Part 171) invoices that would have been issued in the third quarter of fiscal year 2020. The NRC is taking this action to temporarily mitigate the financial impacts and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new billing date for annual fees that were scheduled to be billed in the third quarter (April, May, and June) will be July 22, 2020.”

YMG turns the spotlight on national labs

ANS Young Members Group Chair Harsh Desai

The ANS Young Members Group has developed a new live webinar series that is free to all, and Harsh Desai is excited. “We have a great opportunity to highlight our national laboratory infrastructure, which is a pinnacle of innovation in nuclear science, technology, and engineering,” said Desai, chair of the YMG. “We’re giving each of the national labs the opportunity to highlight their mission, key projects, and rising stars, and we’re also giving members of the YMG executive committee valuable leadership experience building and moderating the webinar panels.”

NRC issues regulatory guidance to licensees

Recognizing the challenges that nuclear materials licensees may face in meeting certain regulatory requirements, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has developed options for licensees that may need regulatory relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. The options for providing regulatory relief were outlined in an April 7 letter from the NRC to licensees authorized to possess by-product, source, and special nuclear materials, including licensed nuclear materials users, uranium recovery, decommissioning (both materials and users), fuel facilities, and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities.