Decommissioning of Fort Greely reactor to begin in 2022

July 2, 2021, 7:05AMRadwaste Solutions
Col. John Litz, of the USACE Baltimore District, examines the containment vessel door of the SM-1A deactivated nuclear power plant during a site visit in April 2019.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to begin decommissioning SM-1A, the mothballed nuclear power reactor at Fort Greely, in Alaska, beginning next year, a project that is expected to take approximately six years. The USACE said it expects to release a request for proposals soliciting contractor bids for the decommissioning and dismantlement project by late summer.

NRC rejects challenges to TMI-2 license transfer, ISP’s license application

June 24, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dismissed a challenge to the previously approved transfer of the license for the shuttered Three Mile Island-2 power reactor from FirstEnergy to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions for decommissioning. The order by the NRC commissioners denying the motion by Three Mile Island Alert to hold the license transfer in abeyance was issued on June 22.

IAEA issues report on Japan’s decommissioning program for R&D facilities

June 24, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

Noting the challenges Japan will face in managing the nuclear waste that will be generated from decommissioning 79 of its nuclear research and development facilities, the International Atomic Energy Agency is recommending that the country prepare for delays in the development of disposal facilities and provide appropriate waste storage capacity for the interim period.

The recommendation was one of several that a team of IAEA experts provided to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency after reviewing the agency’s 70-year decommissioning program, called the “Back-End Roadmap,” and contained in the report, ARTEMIS Review of JAEA Back-End Roadmap, which was released on June 22,

NEA argues for circular approach to funding back end of nuclear fuel cycle

June 22, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

A report by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency proposes a new approach to assessing the financial adequacy for undertaking nuclear decontamination and decommissioning projects and high-level radioactive waste management.

With the world’s aging nuclear power reactors approaching the end of their planned operational lifetimes, the adequacy of funding for decommissioning and waste management increasingly commands the attention of decision makers, the NEA said.

Navy nuclear refueling barge to be dismantled

June 4, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A U.S. Navy Surface Ship Support Barge (the large vessel in photo), which is used to refuel nuclear-powered ships and dismantle spent fuel units, will be scrapped in a three-year process. (Photo: Stripes.com)

Towed from its home in Newport News, Va., the U.S. Navy’s Surface Ship Support Barge has arrived in Mobile, Ala., for decommissioning, Advance Local Alabama reported on June 1. The 268-foot-long barge operated from 1964 to 2016, supporting the Navy's nuclear vessel refueling and functioning like a spent fuel pool at a commercial nuclear power plant.

Entergy completes transfer of Indian Point to Holtec for decommissioning

June 2, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The new sign at the Indian Point Energy Center. (Photo: Holtec)

The transfer of the Indian Point nuclear power plant from Entergy to Holtec International and its subsidiaries was completed last week. Under the asset transfer deal, Holtec Indian Point becomes owner of the closed plant, with Holtec Decommissioning International serving as the site’s license holder and decommissioning operator.

Canadian nuclear leaders to collaborate on CANDU decommissioning

May 14, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions
Canada’s pickering nuclear power plant. (photo: opg)

A collaboration agreement signed by Ontario Power Generation’s Center for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, and SNC-Lavalin will build on Ontario’s extensive nuclear industry expertise and skilled workforce to support the decommissioning of CANDU reactors in Canada and around the world, according to a May 13 press release from the organizations. The work will include the decommissioning of OPG’s Pickering nuclear power plant following the end of commercial operations in 2025.

Can plant closures be an industry engagement opportunity?

May 14, 2021, 9:04AMNuclear NewsJim A. Hamilton
New York’s Indian Point-3 was scheduled to close in April 2021.

At present, more than 20 commercial nuclear power plants in the United States have entered the decommissioning process, and many indicators point to a coming wave of additional plant closures. Indeed, with increasing numbers of plants terminating operations due to unfavorable market conditions, some voices have deemed this the “age of decommissioning.”

Regardless of whether a plant shuts its doors earlier than antici­pated or seeks a life extension through relicensing, all plants eventually close. When they do, the closure sets off a wave of economic impacts ranging from minor disruptions to severe and long-lasting harm.

EnergySolutions tapped to decommission Kewaunee power plant

May 12, 2021, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
EnergySolutions will acquire Kewaunee for decommissioning. Photo: Dominion Generation

Utah-based EnergySolutions has entered into a definitive agreement with Dominion Energy to acquire the closed Kewaunee nuclear power plant for prompt decommissioning. Located about 30 miles southeast of Green Bay, Wis., the single-unit, 574-MWe pressurized water reactor was shut down in May 2013 for financial reasons.

NorthStar to ship Vermont Yankee’s low-activity wastewater to Idaho

May 10, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The closed Vermont Yankee power plant is currently undergoing decommissioning. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to allow about 2 million gallons of low-level radioactive wastewater from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, currently undergoing decommissioning, to be disposed of at an Idaho waste facility. As published in the May 7 Federal Register, the NRC has issued an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for a request by NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning to dispose of the wastewater at US Ecology Idaho’s waste facility near Grand View.

The consequences of closure: The local cost of shutting down a nuclear power plant

May 7, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire

When on May 7, 2013, the Kewaunee nuclear power plant in rural Wisconsin was shut down, it took with it more than 600 full-time jobs and more than $70 million in lost wages, not including temporary employment from refueling and maintenance outages. Taking into account indirect business-to-business activity, the total economic impact of the closure of the single-unit pressurized water reactor was estimated to be more than $630 million to the surrounding three-county area.

N.Y. drops its objections to sale of Indian Point in deal with Holtec

April 19, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

The State of New York will withdraw its lawsuit against the transfer of Indian Point’s license to Holtec International for decommissioning under a provisional agreement signed on April 14. In exchange, Holtec has agreed to maintain a minimum of $400 million in Indian Point’s decommissioning trust fund for the next 10 years.

Adding context to Japan’s (correct) decision to dispose of Fukushima wastewater

April 13, 2021, 6:28AMNuclear News
A current picture of the Fukushima nuclear power station with the more than 1,000 water storage tanks on site. Photo: Courtesy of TEPCO.

The Japanese government will soon announce the decision to dispose of stockpiled Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, according to an AP News story published last Friday. The decision is years in the making and follows the guidelines from a panel of government-appointed experts named the Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS-Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee).

Advisory panel formed for TMI-2 decommissioning

March 25, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Three Mile Island nuclear generating station in 2010.

A community advisory board has been formed for the decommissioning of Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, according to a March 23 report by StateImpact Pennsylvania, a collaboration of National Public Radio member stations. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved in December the transfer of TMI-2 and its license to TMI-2 Solutions for decommissioning. TMI-2 Solutions is a subsidiary of EnergySolutions.

According to the report, the TMI-2 Community Advisory Panel (CAP) is made up of 15 people who represent the plant and its neighbors, including townships, school districts, first responders, nuclear planners, and state historians. The group is being led by Londonderry Township manager Steve Letavic.

TMI-2 Solutions said that it will provide quarterly decommissioning updates to the TMI-2 CAP. As a volunteer non-regulatory organization, the CAP will provide community feedback to TMI-2 Solutions, including any issues or concerns related to TMI-2 decommissioning activities.

Advanced liquid waste processing systems: Safely processing Fukushima’s wastewater

March 19, 2021, 2:07PMNuclear NewsJohn Fabian

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) became a household name a decade ago as the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, center of the largest nuclear accident in a generation. Now in 2021, as a result of the continuous mitigation efforts, TEPCO is currently storing 1.2 million cubic meters of treated wastewater—and counting—in more than 1,000 large storage tanks on site. This wastewater has been in the spotlight for the past few years since current projections show that storage capacity will run out by 2022. That spotlight intensified last year when a panel of experts from Japan named the Subcommittee on Handling of the ALPS-Treated Water (ALPS Subcommittee) recommended to the Japanese government that the treated wastewater should be released into the ocean. The ALPS Subcommittee’s report states, “The topic of how to handle the treated water is one of the most important decommissioning tasks, which has been discussed since 2013.” This issue has plagued the decommissioning and decontamination efforts for the past decade for one simple reason: a failure to effectively communicate about the low risk involved with processing, diluting, and discharging the water over a period of several years.

Southern California Edison pushes to get SONGS’s spent fuel moved off-site

March 16, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Southern California Edison has released a three-volume set of plans supporting the off-site relocation of the spent nuclear fuel currently stored at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. According to SCE, the release of the Action Plan, the Strategic Plan, and the Conceptual Transportation Plan constitutes a significant milestone in a process that began with the 2017 settlement regarding the coastal development permit issued for San Onofre’s expanded spent fuel storage installation.

At the same time, in an effort to urge the federal government to find a permanent solution to the nation’s inventory of commercial spent fuel, SCE and the counties of Orange and San Diego announced on March 15 the formation of a stakeholder coalition, Action for Spent Fuel Solutions Now.

“SCE and our partners and stakeholders have a genuine opportunity to bring people together with a shared interest to prepare and advocate for the relocation of the spent fuel away from the coast,” said Kevin Payne, SCE’s president and chief executive officer. “It is clear that to make tangible progress on this issue, the federal government must act. Rather than wait for this to happen, we are going to be a catalyst for change.”

Information about the coalition, including how to join, is available on its website.

Critical Look: PBS Newshour’s coverage of 10th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident

March 15, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News

Along with many other media outlets on March 11, the PBS NewsHour reported on the continuing recovery efforts from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan 10 years ago. The segment, "Japan marks 10th anniversary of Fukushima nuclear disaster," is just over eight minutes long, most of which discusses the effects of the earthquake and tsunami on the region and Japan’s preparedness for the next major natural incident.

Safely decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and revitalizing Fukushima

March 11, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear NewsAkira Ono

Akira Ono is chief decommissioning officer of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings and president of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Company.

The mission of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), and my personal mission, is to safely decommission the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and thereby contribute to the revitalization of Fukushima.

In performing this important work, we are guided by the principle of balancing the recovery of Fukushima with the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, doing everything possible to mitigate the risks as we progress. Since the accident on March 11, 2011, we have stabilized the site and alleviated many of its crisis aspects.

Most significantly, we have been making efforts to improve the working environment by reducing the contamination on the site due to the accident. About 4,000 workers are currently engaged at Fukushima Daiichi. The average monthly radiation dose for those workers has been reduced from 21.55 mSv (2,155 mrem) immediately following the accident to 0.3 mSv (30 mrem).

Jacobs to assist in one of world’s deepest nuclear cleanup missions

March 5, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. (DSRL) has awarded a six-year contract worth an estimated $10.4 million to engineering company Jacobs to lead an integrated design management team for one of the world’s deepest nuclear cleanups. The team will help in coordinating the program to clear and treat radioactive waste in the shaft and silo at Dounreay, near Thurso, in Scotland, U.K., a former fast reactor research and development center.

The Dounreay shaft extends 214.5 feet below ground and measures 15 feet wide in places, while the silo is a large underground vault with a concrete roof. Both were used for disposal of intermediate-level radioactive waste in the 1960s and 1970s, but now the solid waste and liquid effluent they contain needs to be retrieved and repackaged for removal to a safe, modern storage facility.

DSRL, the site decommissioning company, has tasked Jacobs with leading design integration ahead of the start of construction work. The company will also assist with the management of design and build work packages and offer design support during construction and commissioning. In announcing the contract on March 4, Jacobs said that it will subcontract with Berkshire Engineering, which is based near Dounreay, to assist with test and trials work.