DOE-NE 2023 budget priorities summarized in ANS online program

May 18, 2022, 11:59AMNuclear News

A team from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy joined ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy on April 27 for an ANS members–only online event to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 NE budget proposal. The proposed total for the office, $1.675 billion, is more than a $20 million increase from the FY 2022 enacted level of $1.654 billion.

Piercy applauds opening of MSU Facility for Rare Isotope Beams

May 10, 2022, 6:59AMANS News

Piercy at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

When Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) officially opened with a ribbon-cutting event on May 2, ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy was there to celebrate the result of many years of hard work.

“Big congratulations to MSU for bringing this project to fruition on time and on budget,” Piercy said. “FRIB will allow scientists to probe the origins of stars and the fundamental structure of matter and explore new life-saving medical treatments.”

Piercy worked closely with MSU’s FRIB team for several years before and after the university was selected over Argonne National Laboratory to host the facility, and he has seen the project come full circle. He was present at both the groundbreaking in 2014 and the ribbon-cutting ceremony in May.

Huff approved to head Office of Nuclear Energy

May 5, 2022, 3:04PMNuclear News

Huff

The Senate has confirmed ANS member Kathryn Huff as the next assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) in the Department of Energy. The bipartisan vote, held earlier this afternoon, was 80–11.

President Biden selected Huff in January to fill the top spot at NE—a post that has been vacant since Rita Baranwal (also an ANS member) announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Huff came to the DOE in May of last year to serve as principal deputy assistant secretary for nuclear energy, going on unpaid leave from her position as an associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group.

MSU’s FRIB: Ready to accelerate discoveries in nuclear physics and applications

May 3, 2022, 7:16AMNuclear News
An aerial view of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams on the Michigan State University campus in East Lansing, Mich. (Photo: FRIB)

Michigan State University’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) officially opened yesterday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, elected officials, and guests who had supported the project during its planning and construction, including ANS Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy. They were there to celebrate the completion—on time and within budget—of the world’s most powerful heavy-ion accelerator and the first accelerator-based Department of Energy Office of Science user facility located on a university campus.

Senate panel vets Biden’s pick to lead DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy

March 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nominated to lead the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on March 17.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee met yesterday to consider the nomination of Kathryn Huff to head the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). President Biden selected Huff to fill the top spot at NE in January.

Update on Ukraine

March 4, 2022, 9:28AMNuclear News
Energoatom’s Zaporizhzhia plant, in southeastern Ukraine. (Photo: Energoatom)

Latest on Zaporizhzhia: As of this morning, Russian military forces have taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The Russian military began shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine, resulting in a fire at the site on Thursday.

ANS to DOE: HALEU availability program needed ASAP

February 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society is urging the Department of Energy to accelerate the development of an availability program for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

In a letter sent to the DOE earlier this week, ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy state that HALEU availability is critical to the continued development of advanced nuclear technologies.

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 nuclear community rallies to save Diablo Canyon

January 13, 2022, 7:01AMANS News
Pro-nuclear groups rallied to keep Diablo Canyon open beyond 2025 in front of the San Luis-Obispo County Courthouse in California on December 4, 2021. (Photo: Save Clean Energy)

Over the past couple of months, the nuclear community has participated in a grassroots effort to save the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant from premature closure—and it appears to be having an effect. The growing support for keeping Diablo Canyon open is seen in editorials, an academic study from Stanford/MIT, and a grassroots rally held in December 2021 to show support for keeping Diablo Canyon operating.

ANS Winter Meeting: What it will take to “Fuel our Nuclear Future"

December 1, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

The 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo began this morning with a Opening Plenary Session chaired by Winter Meeting general chair Amir Vexler, president and chief executive officer of Orano USA. It was an opportunity to both celebrate achievements that are already building a “Nuclear Future” and to identify needs and challenges ahead.

Influential speakers from the U.S. Congress, the Department of Energy, and the Nuclear Energy Institute joined ANS president Steven Nesbit and ANS CEO/executive director Craig Piercy to explore key issues associated with the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, including supply and demand for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). They didn’t stop there, however. They took questions from an in-person and virtual audience that probed other requirements of a sustainable nuclear future, including fueling a human resources pipeline.

Biden signs infrastructure bill into law

November 16, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

Surrounded by members of his cabinet, congressional leaders, and others, President Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act—representing a much-needed victory for the president, whose approval rating, according to a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, sits at 41 percent.

ANS urges Congress to address availability of HALEU for advanced reactor fuel

September 16, 2021, 9:30AMANS News
Click image to enlarge

Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to fuel advanced reactors, the American Nuclear Society declares in a September 14 letter to Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the committee’s ranking member.

On alpha, flak, and jack

September 7, 2021, 9:30AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy
cpiercy@ans.org

This month’s issue of Nuclear News focuses on the role of probabilistic methods in assessing and mitigating the risk of adverse events at nuclear plants and facilities. It’s a timely topic as we move to launch a new generation of nuclear technologies, but it is only half of a larger question that is universal to the human condition: Are the rewards of a particular thing worth its attendant risks?

Nuclear engineers use hard technical terms like “probabilistic risk assessment” and “core damage frequency,” but other industries have much more colorful ways of describing the holistic risk-reward construct in their world. In finance, it’s known simply as “alpha.” A zero alpha investment suggests that its returns are commensurate with the associated risks. Negative alphas get pushed to the curb, and “high alpha” deals get Wall Street hedge fund managers their house in the Hamptons.

House appropriators pass bill with more funding for nuclear energy

July 19, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

The House Committee on Appropriations last week approved an Energy and Water Development funding bill for fiscal year 2022 that provides an 11 percent increase for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

Reported favorably out of committee on July 16 via a party-line vote of 33 to 24, the House bill sports a total price tag of $53.2 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from the FY 2021 enacted level. (The committee’s official report on appropriations for the next fiscal year can be found here.)

ANS to Congress: Don’t prohibit civil nuclear cooperation with China

June 30, 2021, 3:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society sent a letter this morning to the chairman and the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urging them to oppose any amendments to H.R. 3524, the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act, that would disallow U.S. cooperation with China in the field of civil nuclear energy.

The bill, introduced on May 25 by the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.), was scheduled for markup by the committee this afternoon at 1:00 (EDT).

ANS asks members to tell Congress to support nuclear R&D

June 15, 2021, 3:36PMANS News

As more than 1,500 meeting attendees were partaking in technical sessions during the 2021 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting, the American Nuclear Society launched a new policy engagement initiative aimed at drawing support for a segment of the Biden administration’s FY 2022 budget request. The initiative, kicked off today by an email to ANS members, urged the members to send letters to their congressional representatives asking for support of advanced nuclear research and development funding.

ANS leaders’ op-ed urges New York Gov. Cuomo to keep Indian Point-3 operating

November 30, 2020, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Dunzik-Gougar

Piercy

The scheduled premature shutdown of Indian Point-3 will all but guarantee a massive increase in fossil fuel use, according to an op-ed written by American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy that was published in the New York Daily News on November 30.

Indian Point-3 is slated to be shut down in April 2021, four years before its operating license expires.

Versatility, leadership, and “the highest fast neutron flux in the history of ever”: Highlights from INL’s VTR webinar

November 2, 2020, 12:04PMNuclear News

Clockwise from top left are Craig Piercy, Ray Furstenau, Tom O’Connor, Sean McDeavitt, Tara Neider, and Judi Greenwald.

The Versatile Test Reactor’s conceptual design was approved in September, and a draft environmental impact statement could be released within the week. The completion of more project milestones leading to operation in 2026, however, will depend on congressional appropriations. An expert panel described the need for a state-of-the-art test reactor and the value that the VTR could bring to the U.S. nuclear R&D community over its 60-year lifetime during a recent webinar—“Advanced U.S. Nuclear Research and Development: A Briefing and Discussion on the VTR”—hosted by Idaho National Laboratory.

Craig Piercy, ANS executive director/CEO, moderated the webinar, introducing a project update from VTR executive director Kemal Pasamehmetoglu and facilitating a Q&A session with representatives of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, universities, reactor developers, and the Nuclear Innovation Alliance. A recording of the October 29 webinar is available online. INL also has a video and information online on the VTR.

“I think that the VTR represents part of a larger effort to modernize our infrastructure, develop a new set of technologies, and really preserve our global leadership in the field,” said Piercy. Read on to learn more about the promise the VTR holds for the nuclear community.

The U.S. nuclear supply chain: Time to start the climb

August 12, 2020, 4:30PMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Originally published in the August 2020 issue of Nuclear News.

Dear reader:

Let’s face it. The U.S. nuclear manufacturing and supply chain is not what it once was. In the 1960s and ’70s, America was the dominant player in the global nuclear industry. Under the auspices of Atoms for Peace, U.S. companies successfully provided reactor systems and associated services to countries across the world and held significant sway over the course of future nuclear development in the international arena. America was at the top of its nuclear game.