Shipping Vermont Yankee’s LLW: Lessons for transporting used fuel

March 23, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste SolutionsJay Thomas, Mike Valenzano, and Nicolas Guibert
A loaded MP197HB cask is prepared for departure from the Vermont Yankee decommissioning site to West Texas. (Photos: Orano TN)

The rapid changes in the nuclear energy industry over the last decade, driven in part by fluctuating energy market prices and an aging fleet of reactors, have led to the closure of multiple reactors in the United States and other countries. These closures have increased the need for larger and more efficient ways to manage low-level radioactive waste processing and transport capacities. The safe transport of radioactive material is a key component of the overall nuclear industry reliability. Though sometimes perceived as a bottleneck and costly, it is necessary to send waste material to disposal.

GE Hitachi SMR reaches prelicensing milestone in Canada

March 16, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
A rendering of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor. (Image: NRC)

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH’s) BWRX-300 technology has completed phases 1 and 2 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s vendor design review (VDR) process, the Wilmington, N.C.–based company announced yesterday.

D&D of Navy nuclear barge to wrap up by April

March 15, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The SSSB wet pit, which once held spent naval nuclear fuel, is demolished. (Photo: APTIM)

Nuclear dismantling and decommissioning company APTIM said it is on schedule to wrap up field activities decommissioning the U.S. Navy’s Surface Ship Support Barge (SSSB) by April, with project closure slated for June. The company announced yesterday that its team has completed the demolition of the barge’s former spent fuel water pool, also referred to as the “wet pit,” or the heart of the vessel.

La Crosse BWR site released for unrestricted use

February 28, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The La Crosse site in 2019 with major decommissioning completed. The coal-fired Genoa plant is in the background. (Photo: EnergySolutions)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it has released the site of the La Crosse boiling water reactor in Wisconsin for unrestricted public use. The action comes after the NRC found that EnergySolutions subsidiary LaCrosseSolutions had met the agency’s radiation protection standards in decommissioning the nuclear power plant.

NRC report updates decommissioning cost guidance

February 14, 2023, 9:58AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has updated its guidance for nuclear power plant owners and operators in estimating the cost of decommissioning their reactors. Licensed power reactor operators are required under NRC regulations to annually adjust the estimated costs (in current-year dollars) of decommissioning their plants to ensure that adequate funds are available when needed.

The need for sustainable nuclear/alpha skills in the U.K.: A Sellafield perspective

February 10, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear NewsHenry Hickling

The United Kingdom’s nuclear renaissance

The United Kingdom’s nuclear industry is expanding, with the U.K. government committed to supporting the build of more civil nuclear power plants (deployments up to 24 GW by 2050)1 while also undertaking large-scale decommissioning work in parallel.2 The defense sector is experiencing growth with the decommissioning, operation, and new build of submarines, plus managing the U.K.’s deterrent.3 Although the civil and defense programs are separate, they draw on the same group of skills and people.

NRC proposes to amend its rules on the use of credit ratings

January 4, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a proposed rule that would amend its regulations for approved financial assurance mechanisms for decommissioning. The rule is intended to implement the provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that directed agencies to amend their regulations to remove any reference to or requirement of reliance on credit ratings.

Aecon-Wachs to help repurpose Savannah River’s MOX fuel facility

December 1, 2022, 6:53AMNuclear News

Aecon-Wachs, the U.S. division of Aecon Nuclear, has been tapped to support the Department of Energy’s goal of repurposing the unfinished Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site (SRS) in South Carolina. Known as Building 226-F, the facility is being transitioned into the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) to produce plutonium pits for the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons.

The Decommissioning of Portsmouth’s X-326

November 14, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste SolutionsGuest Contributor

In the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Energy constructed the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in rural southern Ohio to enrich uranium, alongside two other federally owned and managed facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Paducah, Ky. The Cold War-era plant was built as a self-sufficient industrial city with more than 400 buildings and facilities centered around three massive gaseous diffusion process buildings that could enrich the level of the uranium-235 isotope for nuclear fuel in the defense and energy sectors.

Reactor head removed from decommissioned Indian Point-3

November 11, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
On the left, equipment being installed at Indian Point-3 on April 26, 1971. Unit 3 began operation in August 1976. On the right, some of the same equipment being removed as part of the decommissioning process, November 2022. (Photo: Indian Point Energy Center)

Holtec continues the decommissioning work at Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y.

Unit 2, a 1,028-MWe pressurized water reactor, was shut down in April 2020; Unit 3, a 1,041-MWe PWR, was closed one year later. (Unit 1 was decommissioned in 1974.)

DOE completes cocooning of Hanford’s K East Reactor

October 31, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
DOE contractor CPCCo recently completed construction of a protective cocoon over the former K East Reactor building at Hanford. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced that construction of Hanford’s K East Reactor cocoon has been completed ahead of schedule and under budget. Cocooning of K East—enclosing it in a protective steel structure while the reactor’s radioactivity naturally decays—was one of EM’s key construction priorities for 2022.

The trouble with tritium

October 31, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

The trouble with tritium is there is no trouble with tritium.

At any level outside the laboratory, either experimental or manufacturing, tritium is harmless. Every year, we routinely release millions of gallons of slightly tritiated water to the ocean, large lakes, and large rivers from almost every commercial nuclear reactor in the world, and have done so for decades, all in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards. And no adverse effects on the environment or humans have ever been seen.

AECL seeks M&O contractor for CNL

October 3, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (Photo: AECL)

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has published a request for expressions of interest to manage and operate Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL). The request is available on the MERX website.

According to AECL, the objective of the procurement and the resulting contract is to contain or reduce costs and risks for Canadian taxpayers while leveraging CNL’s capabilities and resources for Canadians.

Expressions of interest must be submitted via MERX on or before October 26, 2022.

NRC opens Palisades’ decommissioning plans to public comment

September 12, 2022, 7:09AMRadwaste Solutions
The Palisades nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has made Holtec International’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities report (PSDAR) for the closed Palisades nuclear power plant available for public comment until December 27. The NRC also plans to hold a public meeting to discuss the report on the evening of September 22 at the South Haven campus of Lake Michigan College, about 10 miles north of the Palisades site in Covert, Mich.

SONGS videos highlight decommissioning progress

September 6, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The San Onofre nuclear power plant.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) recently shared a few videos on its YouTube channel, showing recent progress Southern California Edison has made in dismantling the plant’s turbine building. Decommissioning of the nuclear power plant, which permanently ceased operations in 2013, is being conducted by SONGS Decommissioning Solutions, a joint venture of EnergySolutions and AECOM.

Westinghouse awarded Norwegian decommissioning contract

July 25, 2022, 9:22AMRadwaste Solutions
The reactor hall at the Halden research reactor. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company was awarded an engineering contract with Norsk Nukleær Dekommisjonering (NND) to plan the decommissioning of the country’s two nuclear research reactors, located in Halden and Kjeller. The three-year agreement includes options up to six years and is valued at up to $100 million (NOK 1 billion).

Jacobs/Multiconsult JV to plan Norwegian decommissioning program

July 1, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Jeep-II facility at Kjeller. (Photo: Institute for Energy Technology)

A joint venture of Jacobs and Oslo-based engineering company Multiconsult Norge have been selected by Norsk Nukleær Dekommisjonering (NDD) to plan the decommissioning of Norway’s nuclear facilities. NDD is the state-run enterprise responsible for the decommissioning of Norway’s nuclear facilities and radioactive waste management.

Holtec completes acquisition of Michigan’s Palisades and Big Rock Point

June 29, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Palisades nuclear power plant. (Photo: Holtec International)

Holtec International announced on June 28 that it has completed the acquisition of the Palisades nuclear power plant and the Big Rock Point site from Entergy Corporation. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the license transfer for the two sites, both located in Michigan, in December 2021.

Cocooning of Hanford’s K East Reactor begins

June 29, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The first steel columns, each weighing up to 28 tons, were placed for a cocoon over the former K East Reactor building at the Hanford Site. (Photo: DOE-EM)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said that construction is well underway on a protective enclosure, or cocoon, for the K East Reactor building at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash.

EM reports that is has achieved one of its key construction priorities for 2022 by beginning construction of the enclosure, which is designed to protect the reactor building while the radioactivity in the deactivated reactor core decays over the next several decades, making it safer and easier to decommission.

A time-lapse video showing the construction of the cocoon’s massive 120-foot steel frame can be seen here.

ANS responds to NRC’s proposed amendments on decommissioning regulations

May 25, 2022, 12:01PMANS News

ANS President Steven P. Nesbit has submitted comments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, on behalf of the Society, regarding the commission’s proposed amendments to regulations on the decommissioning of production and utilization facilities. The NRC’s proposed regulatory changes address numerous areas, including emergency preparedness, physical security, cybersecurity, irradiated fuel management, decommissioning funding assurance, environmental considerations, low-level waste transportation, spent fuel management planning, and drug and alcohol testing.