Online registration opens for virtual NRC conference

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened registration for its annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC), the largest public meeting the agency hosts. Scheduled for March 8–11, the 33rd RIC will be an all-virtual event.

The full conference program and registration information can be accessed from the RIC Web page.

Details: In addition to remarks from the NRC commissioners and the executive director of operations, RIC 2021 will feature two special plenary sessions, including one in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and 28 technical sessions covering a wide range of topics, such as advanced reactors, accident tolerant fuel, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, microreactors, and risk-informed decision making.

Ex-Im Bank, Poland sign MOU on U.S. energy investment

Polish Minister of Climate and Environment Michał Kurtyka (left) and Ex-Im Chairman Kimberly Reed sign an MOU on U.S. energy investment in Poland on December 11. Photo: EXIM

In another sign of U.S. interest in helping Poland develop a civil nuclear power program, the Export-Import Bank of the United States announced last week that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Polish government to promote U.S. energy investment in the Central European nation. (For an earlier agreement, see here.)

The MOU was signed in Warsaw on December 11 by Ex-Im president and chairman, Kimberly A. Reed, and Poland’s minister of climate and environment, Michał Kurtyka, during Reed’s three-day visit to Poland.

The Ex-Im: As the official export credit agency of the United States, Ex-Im provides loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to foreign customers purchasing U.S. exports.

The MOU particulars: The MOU calls for Ex-Im and Poland to “explore and identify potential opportunities for Ex-Im financing and to work together to promote business development opportunities related to strategic energy projects and programs,” according to Ex-Im’s announcement. The agreement includes, but is not limited to, support for projects in nuclear energy, in particular in support of strategic projects under Poland’s nuclear power program, low- and zero-emission technologies, clean energy innovation, and critical energy infrastructure, including cybersecurity solutions.

NNSA reportedly hacked as part of “extensive espionage operation”

In an exclusive story published yesterday, the news website Politico reports that networks of the National Nuclear Security Administration and other federal entities have been hacked “as part of an extensive espionage operation.”

Citing officials familiar with the matter, the story says that network breaches have been identified at the NNSA’s Office of Secure Transportation (which is responsible for the transport of government-owned special nuclear materials), Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, the Department of Energy’s Richland Field Office, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

According to the story, the hackers are believed to have gained access to the networks “by compromising the software company SolarWinds, which sells IT management products to hundreds of government and private-sector clients.”

Report: Utilities need greater access to grid threat information

The National Commission on Grid Resilience (NCGR) has released a report recommending a series of actions to better address threats to the bulk power system in the United States. While noting that “substantial progress has been made in a short time” toward improving grid resilience, the report declares that “more needs to be done, and in record time.”

Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

The accident that occurred at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979, brought about many changes to the nuclear industry. Among the changes was the industry stopping to reflect on current procedures and the training of its employees. Exhorted by the findings of the Kemeny Commission and sponsored by the Department of Energy, industry leaders and training personnel began meeting on improvements to training at the Gatlinburg Conference in the early 1980's.