Draft proposal includes nuclear in EU taxonomy

January 5, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

France and other pronuclear European Union members appear to be winning the argument with their antinuclear neighbors—Germany, most prominently—regarding whether to add nuclear energy to the EU taxonomy, the classification system used to direct investments toward environmentally sustainable economic projects.

On January 1, the European Commission released a 60-page draft proposal that includes nuclear and natural gas in the taxonomy. Also, in a related press release, the EC said that it has begun consultations with EU members “on a draft text of a Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act covering certain gas and nuclear activities.”

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

March 19, 2021, 2:07PMUpdated December 28, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJohn Fabian
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station site. Image: Courtesy of TEPCO.

As 2021 closes, Nuclear News is taking a look back at some of the feature articles published each month in the magazine. March 2021 marked 10 years since the earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan and crippled the Fukushima nuclear station. This article from our March issue remains timely since various news outlets continue to report on the dangers of the Fukushima waste water without providing context to the Japanese plan to discharge the water. The March issue of Nuclear News also included a great review article from Lake Barrett outlining the current status of the decontamination and decommissioning going on at Fukushima.

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.

NRC approves transfer of Palisades, Big Rock Point to Holtec for decommissioning

December 14, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Palisades power plant, in Covert Township, Mich.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the Palisades nuclear power plant licenses from Entergy Nuclear Operations to Holtec International, as owner, and Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI), as decommissioning operator. Holtec and HDI intend to decommission the single-unit pressurized water reactor, located in Covert, Mich., under an accelerated schedule.

Proposed D&D rule expected to be published in early 2022, NRC says

December 10, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

Holahan

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects to publish its proposed rulemaking for nuclear power reactors transitioning to decontamination and decommissioning in early 2022, according to Patricia Holahan, director of the NRC’s Division of Decommissioning, Uranium Recovery, and Waste Programs. Holahan spoke during the December 1 opening plenary session of the topical meeting, Decommissioning, Environmental Science and Remote Technology 2021, held in conjunction with the 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo.

On November 3, the NRC commissioners approved the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register, subject to edits and comments by the commissioners. According to Holahan, who also serves as special assistant to the director of the NRC’s Division of Rulemaking, Environmental, and Financial Support, the NRC staff will incorporate the commission-directed changes into the proposed rule before it is published in the FR. The new rule is intended to make the decommissioning process more efficient by reducing the need for license exemptions and amendments.

Last remaining support building at West Valley’s Main Plant set to come down

December 10, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Crews take down the Load-In Facility at the West Valley Demonstration Project. The demolition is scheduled for completion early next year. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is set to complete the 69th building demolition at the West Valley Demonstration Project early next year, when crews finish knocking down the last structure standing that supported operations at the former Main Plant Process Building.

Maximizing decommissioning lessons learned

December 7, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear NewsLarry W. Camper

Larry W. Camper

The track record for the successful decommissioning of nuclear facilities, both nationally and internationally, is impressive. In the United States, we have decommissioned many nuclear facilities, including complex materials sites, uranium recovery sites, research and test reactors, and nuclear power plants. To date, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 10 nuclear power plants have been completely decommissioned for unrestricted use, and another 26 power reactor sites are currently undergoing decommissioning through either SAFSTOR or DECON, following NRC regulatory requirements. In addition, the Nuclear Energy Institute identifies three nuclear power plants that were successfully decommissioned outside of NRC jurisdiction. While such a track record is impressive, the nuclear industry must be vigilant in focusing on lessons learned in order to continue to make gains in efficiency, cost savings, improved environmental stewardship, and enhanced stakeholder confidence. In reviewing the outcomes of decommissioning over many years, a number of key lessons learned have emerged.

Humboldt Bay officially decommissioned, site released for unrestricted use

November 23, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Humboldt Bay nuclear power plant as seen from Humboldt Hill in 2010. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons.)

The license for Pacific Gas & Electric Company’s Humboldt Bay Unit 3 nuclear power plant near Eureka, Calif., has been terminated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the site has been released for unrestricted use. A 65-MWe boiling water reactor plant, Humboldt Bay-3 operated commercially from 1963 to 1976.

Cintichem’s research reactor and hot cell facility decommissioning

November 12, 2021, 4:35PMNuclear NewsThomas S. LaGuardia and Joseph E. Carignan

The Cintichem radioisotope production facility was located in Tuxedo, N.Y., 60 miles northwest of New York City, on a 100-acre site in the Sterling Forest Industrial Park. The facility was owned and operated by Union Carbide Corporation until 1984, when it was sold to Hoffman-LaRoche, a large pharmaceutical company.

The facility consisted of a 5-MWt, pool-type research reactor and production facility, connected via a 12-foot-deep, water-filled transfer canal to a bank of five adjacent hot cells. The facility began operation in the early 1960s, producing neutron-irradiated, enriched uranium target capsules. The fuel was 93 percent high-enriched uranium.

NRC commissioner Wright addresses evolving D&D model

November 11, 2021, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions

Wright

In a prerecorded video speech to last week’s Decommissioning Strategy Forum in Summerlin, Nev., Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner David Wright addressed public concerns about the growing number of utilities transferring their nuclear power reactor licenses to outside companies for accelerated decontamination and decommissioning after plant closure.

“While the NRC’s reactor decommissioning financial assurance program considers the potential for non-utility companies to conduct decommissioning, we have heard concerns about the use of these new license transfer models, given the significant acceleration of decommissioning schedules and withdrawals from decommissioning trust funds,” Wright said in his November 1 speech.

Decommissioning San Onofre

November 5, 2021, 3:37PMNuclear NewsJohn Dobken

Imagine it’s January 1998. A specially equipped train from the Department of Energy rolls up to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to pick up spent nuclear fuel and take it to the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. This scene is repeated thousands of times at nuclear plant sites across the U.S. over the ensuing decades. The solution to permanent spent fuel disposal as outlined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (and its amendments) is working as intended. The nation’s commercial spent fuel is safely isolated deep underground for the long term.

But that is not what happened. Work on Yucca Mountain has been stalled for a full decade, and the organization within the DOE that by law is responsible for managing the spent fuel program has been defunded and disbanded.

NRC approves proposed decommissioning rulemaking

November 4, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Wisconsin’s Kewaunee nuclear power plant, which shut down in 2013, is being transitioned to decommissioning. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday approved a proposed rule to amend its regulations for nuclear power plants that are transitioning from operations to decommissioning. After changes requested by the NRC commissioners are made by agency staff, the proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register, initiating a 75-day comment period.

Release of La Crosse and Zion sites for unrestricted use delayed until 2022

September 13, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste 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 has extended its orders transferring the licenses for the La Crosse and Zion nuclear power plants from EnergySolutions back to the plant owners until late 2022. This is the third time the NRC has extended the effectiveness of the license transfer orders for the decommissioned plants since approving them in 2019.

Pamela Cowan: The Fleet Approach to D&D

September 10, 2021, 2:23PMRadwaste Solutions

Pamela Cowen

Having spent more than 25 years in the commercial nuclear power community, Pam Cowan has spent time in both the front- and back-end operations of nuclear power. It is this experience that she draws upon as the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) to help her build a growing fleet of power plants undergoing decommissioning and demolition.

Cowan, who came to HDI from the Nuclear Energy Institute, is also senior vice president of decommissioning and regulatory affairs for HDI parent company Holtec International and president of the Nuclear Asset Management Company, the owner of the plants. Cowan also serves as a member of the board of directors of Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a decommissioning general contractor, jointly owned by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin.

Radwaste Solutions spoke to Cowan about Holtec’s fleet approach to decommissioning and her plans for HDI.

(Editor's note: Soon after this article was published in Radwaste Solutions, Westinghouse Electric Company announced that Pam Cowan had been appointed president of the company's Americas operating plant services unit. Cowan takes over the business on September 21, following the retirement of current president, David Howell.)

NorthStar allowed to intervene in sale of Kewaunee

September 8, 2021, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
NorthStar is challenging the sale of Kewaunee to EnergySolutions. (Photo: Dominion Generation)

NorthStar Group Services is being allowed to intervene in Wisconsin’s regulatory review of the sale of the Kewaunee nuclear power plant by Dominion Energy to EnergySolutions for decommissioning. An administrative law judge granted NorthStar permission on September 7 to participate in the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s review of the transaction.

Dangerous San Onofre dismantling job completed safely

September 7, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A graphic representation of the tendons encircling the San Onofre containment domes. (Image: SCE)

A nearly yearlong effort to de-tension and remove more than 400 steel cables, known as tendons, from the two containment domes of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) was recently completed, with only one minor first aid incident recorded, according to Southern California Edison.

Westinghouse signs agreement to dismantle Ringhals-1 and -2 components

August 23, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Vattenfall’s Christopher Eckerberg (left) and Aziz Dag of Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB sign the agreement for decommissioning of large radioactive components at Sweden’s Ringhals-1 and -2. (Photo: Vattenfall/John Guthed)

Westinghouse will segment and dispose of the reactor internals and pressure vessels at Sweden’s Ringhals-1 and Ringhals-2 under a deal announced last week with plant owner Vattenfall. Unit 2, a pressurized water reactor, and Unit 1, a boiling water reactor, were shut down in 2019 and 2020, respectively, after operating for more than 40 years.

Virtual reality in the nuclear community

August 17, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear CafePayal Gupta

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in posted articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Nuclear Society. The views expressed here are those of the individual authors. ANS takes no ownership of their views. The American Nuclear Society assumes no responsibility or liability for any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained on this site.

The nuclear industry is rapidly embracing virtual reality (VR) technology to optimize operations and improve safety. VR companies build an interactive 3D virtually realistic environment where teams can be trained without compromising safety.

NRC to hold a second meeting on Indian Point decommissioning plan

August 11, 2021, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding a virtual meeting on August 18 to discuss and receive comments regarding Holtec International’s decommissioning plan for the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York. A hybrid meeting was held on July 29 in Tarrytown, N.Y., with a phone line available for those who opted not to attend in person. However, local storms and technical issues resulted in remote participants experiencing audio problems.

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.