Bringing Part 53 across the finish line

April 4, 2024, 9:26AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Regulatory Information Conference—“the RIC” as it’s commonly known—is an annual rite of spring for many nuclear energy professionals. Each year, 2,000 industry people crowd into the Montgomery County Conference Center to hear the commissioners give their annual plenary speeches, attend technical sessions on regulatory topics, and kibitz with friends in the expansive foyer during breaks.

And as always, there are two distinct conversations at the RIC: the one that emanates from the stage, and the other that unfurls organically in the hallways. The official conversation is in the public record for anyone to read or watch. The hallway topic du jour this year was Part 53 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, of course—specifically, the Staff Requirements Memo (SRM) handed down by the commission the week before that instructed staff to produce a new proposed rule for public comment and set a six-month countdown clock to finish it.

“Buy the best and only cry once”

March 14, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Spoiler alert: America has one more nuclear reactor on line.

It’s been a long, hard slog for the Vogtle reactor expansion project, and the news coverage has been tough. I would describe it as the “standard media fare” of late—a steady flow of click-inducing “breaking news” alerts on cost overruns and schedule delays. Sure, it’s all fair game in a world with press freedom, but I had hoped for more substance along with the “horse race” reporting from our Fourth Estate.

Nuclear is hard—but it’s not just nuclear. In the United States, big groundbreaking projects of all sorts veer over budget and behind schedule frequently these days, resulting in unpleasant headlines along the way. Then, when they are up and running, these facilities tend to fall out of the public spotlight, and we all start taking them for granted. But this narrative arc hides a larger truth. When Vogtle Unit 4 joins Unit 3 in commercial operation later this year, the two units together are tipped to churn out over 17 million megawatt-hours of steady 24/7 power on an annual basis. That’s more energy per year than all the windmills in California—enough to feed one million homes and businesses. It will do this for the next 60, 80, maybe even 100 years. Talk about a buried lede!

Industry experts at ANS virtual event discuss strategies for safe and secure nuclear power expansion

February 9, 2024, 7:02AMANS News
From left: Piercy, Hart, Iyengar, Tobey

The latest virtual event produced by the American Nuclear Society brought together experts from the forefront of the global nuclear industry to discuss strategies for ensuring a safe, secure, and healthy expansion in the face of a rapidly changing energy and geopolitical landscape.

The webinar, moderated by ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy, featured J’Tia Hart, chief science officer for the National and Homeland Security Directorate at Idaho National Laboratory; Anagha Iyengar, deputy program director for analytics and innovation at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of International Nuclear Security; and William Tobey, former NNSA deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation.

Reflections from COP28

January 31, 2024, 7:00AMANS News

The American Nuclear Society is hosting "Reflections from COP28," an online panel discussion this Friday, February 2, from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. (ET). The talk will look back at the event last December and will look ahead to the implications of what transpired in Dubai.

Registration for the free webinar is required.

Notes from COP28

January 2, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Dubai, UAE—

If you have followed the coverage of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, commonly known as COP28, you probably have figured out that it’s a bit of a three-ring circus: part diplomatic summit, part industry meeting, and part Comic-Con.

The pedestrian avenues of Expo City Dubai unfurl in a flower-like shape and require sustained situational awareness. Look down at your phone for a moment, and you are just as likely to run into the security detail for a head of state as you are a group of indigenous tribe members sporting full face paint and ceremonial regalia. However, once you get over the surreality of the place, it begins to make sense.

Traditionally, COPs are divided into two areas. The inner Blue Zone, managed by the UN, is where country delegations meet to finalize and present their “gift baskets” of voluntary carbon emission reductions, while so-called observer organizations (including the American Nuclear Society) hover at the edges, hoping to get a glimpse of the progress.

Time flies…

December 23, 2023, 9:43AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

"Craig, when you are climbing a mountain, make sure you stop once in a while to enjoy the view.”

An old colleague would sometimes say this to me. It’s hard to believe, but last month marked four years as the Executive Director/CEO of the American Nuclear Society.

If you were an ANS member in the fall of 2019, you know the Society was amid a decade-long decline. Membership numbers were falling, the operational deficit was rising, staff morale was poor, and productivity was low. The fear among the elected leadership was that without significant change, ANS could cease to exist in any meaningful or functional way.

I am immensely grateful for the elected leadership of that time—people like ANS past presidents Bob Coward (2017–2018) and Marilyn Kray (2019–2020), who delivered the ANS Change Plan 2020, which provided a road map for modernizing the organizational structure of ANS.

Construction of Hermes test reactor approved

December 13, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Concept art for a Hermes plant. (Image: Kairos Power)

Kairos Power has received the go-ahead from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build its Hermes demonstration reactor at the Heritage Industrial Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn., making it the first non–light water reactor approved for construction in the United States in more than 50 years.

Declaration to triple nuclear energy launched at COP28

December 5, 2023, 7:21AMNuclear News

As expected, a large number of nations at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai have issued a declaration to triple the world’s nuclear power capacity by 2050. John Kerry, U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, joined leaders and ministers from four continents on Saturday to announce the Declaration to Triple Nuclear Energy.

ANS Winter Meeting: The momentum equation

December 1, 2023, 6:54AMNuclear News

While the featured speakers of the American Nuclear Society’s 2023 Winter Meeting and Expo opening plenary—West Virginia senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin and Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Christopher Hanson—generated a lot of buzz, the rest of the session provided constructive insights into the current state of nuclear technology and a glimpse of what the future may hold.

Letting go

November 22, 2023, 8:09AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Dear Nevada,

I hope you are doing well. We haven’t talked in a long time. I know you’ve moved on. But you know it’s been harder for me to do that.

Look, I’m sorry. I was forceful at times, and I know that made you feel trapped and caused you to question our relationship—pretty much from the beginning. But you also said some mean and untrue things about me. Your family still HATES me, which stinks, because we have a lot of history together.

Anyhow, just wanted to let you know that, while I might always hold out hope for a chance encounter with you that rekindles that old spark—and I will never part with our memory box—I am finally ready to move on to the next chapter of my life, and I understand that means letting go of you.

What Texas v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission tells us

October 9, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Here we go again: Another “workaround” on U.S. nuclear waste policy just got shot down in a federal courtroom. On August 25, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lacked the authority to grant a license to Interim Storage Partners LLC (read: Waste Control Specialists) to accept and store up to 5,000 tons of used nuclear fuel at its proposed facility in Andrews County, Texas. Writing for the court, U.S. circuit judge James Ho found that “the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) creates a comprehensive statutory scheme for addressing spent nuclear fuel accumulation. The scheme prioritizes construction of the permanent repository and limits temporary storage to private, at-the-reactor storage or at federal sites. It plainly contemplates that, until there’s a permanent repository, spent nuclear fuel is to be stored onsite at-the-reactor or in a federal facility.”

This decision is not necessarily a knockout blow. The court’s reading of the law is, well, novel. Other appeals courts have recognized the NRC’s authority to license away-from-reactor storage, and the Supreme Court is likely to weigh in. But given the current high court’s proclivities on “textualism” and the Chevron doctrine, we shouldn’t consider it a slam dunk.

Time and nuclear technology

September 12, 2023, 7:08AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Hi friends, I hope you had a good summer. Like many of you, I took a break from my summer vacation to watch Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. I’m an unabashed Nolan fan—Inception and Interstellar rank among my top 10 favorite movies—but I’ll admit that Oppenheimer required more time for me to digest.

The film itself is first-rate: powered by a taut screenplay, its stripped-down elemental cinematography largely validates the director’s decision not to use any computer-generated imagery (although a couple of quick CGI scenes from the K-25 enrichment facility or the X-10 graphite reactor would have been really cool). The result is a historically faithful, largely accurate celebration of the brilliant minds that enabled one of the most daring engineering feats of all time.

2023 Utility Working Conference: Building resiliency

August 10, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

More than 700 registered attendees descended on Florida’s Marco Island for the ANS Utility Working Conference this week, with many traveling through a wave of severe storms to get there—a fitting start to a meeting themed “Building Resiliency in a Rapidly Changing World.”

Three days of panels and educational sessions formally opened on Monday, August 7, with a plenary on “The Nuclear Industry’s State of Resiliency” featuring three invited speakers: Annie Caputo, NRC commissioner; Bob Willard, president and chief executive officer of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations; and Jeff Lyash, president and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Matthew Rasmussen, general chair of the UWC and senior vice president for engineering and operations support at TVA, introduced the speakers following opening remarks from ANS President Kenneth Petersen and ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy. Together, the plenary speakers pointed to challenges ahead in ensuring effective leadership, nuclear plant resilience, and energy security—and found cause for celebration in the recent and long-awaited announcement of commercial operation at Vogtle-3.

Failure is not an option

July 6, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Wow, that was a banger! The 2023 Annual Meeting had the energy level of an ANS Student Conference. That’s no easy feat. I’ve had several requests for my opening plenary remarks. Here is a shortened version, edited for reading:

So, “Failure Is Not an Option.” I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about it in the beginning. It’s not anodyne like “Powering Our Future!” or some punny Indy reference like “Racing to the Finish.” It didn’t seem to fit our situation.

That phrase, popularized by the movie Apollo 13, has its origins in a time of crisis: three men trying to “eyeball” a free return trajectory to Earth while a team of NASA engineers figures out how to literally put a square peg into a round hole to save the astronauts’ lives.

ANS Annual Meeting: The State of Nuclear

June 22, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
Craig Piercy (left) discusses “The State of Nuclear” with panelists (sitting left to right) Brad Williams, Todd Abrajano, and John Kotek, as well as Amy Roma and Jackie Siebens, who participated via video feed.

The “The State of Nuclear” panel discussion on June 13 at the 2023 American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting focused on how geopolitical issues are affecting federal, state, and international laws, regulations, and funding regarding nuclear technology. The discussion was chaired by ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy.

New senior manager of STEM programs begins at ANS

June 20, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News


The American Nuclear Society is invested in growing the nuclear community through its K-12 STEM programs like the STEM Academy and Navigating Nuclear. Craig Piercy, ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, noted that when he speaks with engineering and technology students, “Most of them chose to go into nuclear because they believe in the power of the technology to help people. So, the core question is this: How do we inspire and educate a new, larger generation of professionals? It has to start at the K-12 level.”

To further this goal, the Society has brought on Uchenna Ezibe as senior manager of STEM programs. Ezibe, who has spent his career in education or STEM program management, has a clear passion for STEM education and a natural curiosity about nuclear science and technology and is very excited to help grow ANS’s educational programs.

Running out of time to be afraid

June 14, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

In his new film Nuclear Now, Oliver Stone brings his seasoned directorial hand to bear on the modern case for nuclear energy. Of course, all of us in the field are suckers for a good nuclear movie. (Triple feature with Pandora’s Promise and A New Fire, anyone?) Stone really does do a masterful job of weaving imagery, narration, and animation together to tell the story of his personal journey to understanding the indispensability of nuclear.

What struck me in particular was Stone’s assertion that “we are running out of time to be afraid.” It made me think: How much time do we have left to lock in a durable shift in public opinion that can weather adverse events and clear public policy obstacles and still give the investment community confidence to put big chips on the table?

You don’t have to look far to find progress. Gallup released its annual “Americans’ Opinions of Nuclear Energy” poll in April. It shows a 4-point year-over-year increase in support for nuclear energy, which represents the highest level of support in the post-Fukushima era. Gallup’s numbers align with other polls that show steady increases in support for nuclear in the last few years, especially among the left-leaning respondents.

Need a bigger nuclear workforce? Aiming for gender balance will help, says NEA

June 14, 2023, 9:46AMNuclear News
(Image: OECD NEA)

Deploying new reactors on the scale required to meet U.S. and international zero-carbon goals by 2050 will require rapid growth in the nuclear workforce, as American Nuclear Society executive director/chief executive officer Craig Piercy emphasized during his opening plenary address at the ANS Annual Meeting on June 12. Piercy pointed to the Department of Energy’s Pathways to Commercial Liftoff: Advanced Nuclear, which estimates that an additional 375,000 people will be required to construct and operate 200 GW of advanced nuclear reactors by 2050—a dramatic increase from about 100,000 today. Where will those engineers, constructors, and operators be found? The 38 nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development agreed last week to a new recommendation from the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) that points to one way to increase the nuclear workforce: increase the number of women participating in the workforce.

ANS annual meeting: “Failure is not an option”

June 12, 2023, 3:37PMANS News


The American Nuclear Society’s annual meeting opened on Sunday, June 11, in Indianapolis, Ind., and will run through June 14. The meeting’s theme is “Failure Is Not an Option.”

ANS president Steven Arndt, who ends his yearlong term at the meeting’s end, addressed the audience at the opening plenary on Monday, June 12, noting that nuclear science and technology’s road has been long, but it is up to ANS members and other advocates to push forward the nuclear enterprise’s momentum for a sustainable future.

Before announcing ANS chief executive officer and executive director Craig Piercy to the stage, Arndt thanked the volunteer members, meeting sponsors, and ANS staff, among others, for making ANS meetings happen.

Feedback from nuclear sector to inform hearing on NRC licensing process

May 31, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

Leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last month sent letters to a variety of nuclear sector stakeholders requesting input in preparation for a June 14 hearing titled “Oversight of NRC: Ensuring Efficient and Predictable Nuclear Safety Regulation for a Prosperous America.” (The hearing will be livestreamed at

“We invite you to submit to the committee information and recommendations to improve the licensing review and approval process, as well as the oversight of NRC licensees,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are interested in NRC activities involving the licensing and oversight of today’s operating reactors, as well as the siting, licensing, construction, and oversight of advanced nuclear reactor technologies.” The letter also noted the committee’s interest in “improving NRC efficiency, management of regulatory costs and fees, public health and safety, staff effectiveness and culture, collaboration with the Department of Energy, and international activities.”