Vogtle-4 hits start-up milestone

February 15, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle-4, pictured in August 2023. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power’s Vogtle-4, located near Waynesboro, Ga., reached initial criticality this week, hitting a major milestone in the start-up of the reactor.

The company announced the news on February 14. Initial criticality demonstrates that operators have safely started the nuclear reactor, or, in other words, the fission reaction within the unit is now self-sustaining and the nuclear reactor is ready to produce heat.

IAEA director general: “Cause for concern” over North Korea’s nuclear program

January 3, 2024, 9:31AMNuclear News

Grossi

Recent observations have indicated that warm water has been discharged near the light water reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center in North Korea, which is consistent with the purported commissioning of the LWR—a process that takes time for any new reactor—and suggests that the reactor has now reached criticality.

“The LWR, like any nuclear reactor, can produce plutonium in its irradiated fuel, which can be separated during reprocessing, so this is cause for concern,” said Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “It remains the case that without access to the facility, the agency cannot confirm its operational status.”

Safety concern: Grossi went on to say that the agency does not have sufficient information to make an assessment about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea site, but that nuclear safety remains the paramount issue when starting a new reactor. Agency inspectors have had no access to North Korea since they were expelled in 2009.

Pakistan’s Karachi-3 connected to grid

March 8, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Karachi nuclear plant, on the Arabian Sea coast in Pakistan. (Photo: CNNC)

Unit 3 at Pakistan’s Karachi nuclear power plant has been connected to the national grid, China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced on March 4, making it the second Hualong One reactor outside of China to have reached the last major step prior to commercial operation. (The distinction of being the first belongs to Unit 3’s twin, Karachi-2, which was connected to the grid in March 2021 and entered commercial operation in May.)

Karachi-3 had achieved criticality on February 21 after completing hot functional testing and entering the fuel loading stage last November.

Smoldering over popular media’s coverage of Chernobyl

June 11, 2021, 9:28AMRadwaste Solutions
The Chernobyl site in 2017 following the placement of the New Safe Confinement structure. (Photo: EBRD)

No matter the discipline, reporting on technical issues for a mass audience is fraught with pitfalls. To make the subject understandable to the layperson, authors make generous use of analogies, which are inherently incomplete and tenuous, like a stone house being built on swampland.

Likewise, in an effort to garner as many clicks or views as possible, reporters and news outlets will often resort to sensationalism, making the news being reported more dramatic than it is. (To be fair, those supplying the news can also be guilty of sensationalism in their hunger for media coverage.)

China’s Tianwan-5 attains first criticality

August 5, 2020, 7:30AMNuclear News

Reactor operators bring Tianwan’s Unit 5 to first criticality. Photo: CNNC

Unit 5 at the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China achieved initial criticality on July 27, marking “the completion of the commissioning of the overall system and equipment of the unit,” according to Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corporation, the plant’s owner and operator.