U.K. decommissioning bureau releases three-year business plan

April 26, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the governmental organization responsible for the cleanup and decommissioning of the United Kingdom’s 17 nuclear sites, has released its business plan for the fiscal years running from April 1, 2023, through March 31, 2026. The plan provides a summary of the activities and progress the NDA expects to make at its nuclear sites over the next three years.

In introducing the report, NDA group chief executive officer David Peattie wrote, “This business plan sets out a challenging program of work, reducing hazards while contributing to a globally significant sustainability agenda, developing our people, and supporting our communities.”

The full report Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Business Plan: 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2026 can be found here.

DOE to consider recycling contaminated Portsmouth nickel

April 18, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant’s X-326 building was completed in June 2022. (Photo: Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth)

As part of its ongoing cleanup work, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management is looking into the potential reuse of approximately 6,400 tons of radiologically surface-contaminated nickel that has been removed from the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Ohio. DOE-EM began decommissioning the Portsmouth plant, one of three Cold War–era gaseous diffusion plant in the United States, in 2011.

NRC to issue guidance on the early use of decommissioning trust funds

April 17, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it is considering new guidance on the use of decommissioning trust funds for the disposal of major radioactive components from still operating nuclear power plants. A draft guidance document is to be issued for public comment in late May, NRC staff said during a public online meeting on April 13.

UCC completes nuclear diving project at legacy Sellafield pond

April 13, 2023, 12:02PMRadwaste Solutions

In December 2022, UCC UK became the first nuclear diving company in more than 60 years to enter Sellafield’s PFSP. (Photo: Sellafield Ltd.)

Underwater Construction Corporation (UCC) UK Ltd. announced that it has recently completed a nuclear diving pilot project at the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, England. UCC UK said the project marks a significant decommissioning milestone for Sellafield, demonstrating the capability of the company’s methods and equipment to remediate the legacy nuclear pond while limiting worker dose.

The oldest pool on the Sellafield site, the PFSP was constructed between the late 1940s and early 1950s as a storage and cooling facility for irradiated fuel and isotopes from the two Windscale reactors and was in full operation until 1962. Then through the mid-1970s, the pond facility, one of six on the site, was used for storage of intermediate-level waste and fuel from the U.K. nuclear program.

Kewaunee to begin site restoration work in tandem with reactor D&D

April 11, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Kewanee nuclear power plant is located along the shore of Lake Michigan. (Photo: EnergySolutions)

EnergySolutions subsidiary KewauneeSolutions is hoping to begin site restoration work at the closed Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Wisconsin later this year and has submitted a request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use the plant’s decommissioning trust fund to do so.

DOE hosts Japanese officials from nuclear decommissioning group

April 5, 2023, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Pictured at the DOE's EM headquarters, from left, are Ana Han, foreign affairs specialist, EM International Program; Joceline Nahigian, director, EM Office of Intergovernmental and Stakeholder Programs; Scott Whiteford, deputy director, DOE Office of Legacy Management; William “Ike” White, EM senior advisor; Masaki Nakagawa, special advisor to executive directors, NDF; Tokuhiro Yamamoto, executive director, NDF; Shin Morita, managing director, International Affairs Group, NDF; Taro Hokugo, managing director, International Affairs Group, NDF; Jeff Avery, EM principal deputy assistant secretary; Angela Watmore, deputy assistant secretary, EM Office of Acquisition and Project Management; and Ming Zhu, EM senior advisor for laboratory policy. (Photo: DOE)

Representatives from the Japan Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) recently visited the Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM) headquarters in Washington, D.C., and the Hanford Site in Washington state to promote collaboration and provide updates on the status and plans to decommission Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, caused damage to the plant and surrounding communities. The NDF was created in September 2011 to oversee the decommissioning and cleanup of the plant, which is owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Last Energy sets up microreactor deals for Poland and the U.K.

March 29, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
A rendering of Last Energy's nuclear power plant. (Image: Last Energy)

Startup company Last Energy has announced power purchase agreements for 34 units of its 20-MWe nuclear power plants with four industrial partners in Poland and the United Kingdom. In total, according to the company, the deals represent more than $18.9 billion in electricity sales.

Moving mixed loads creating efficiencies in U.K. rail transportation

March 28, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste SolutionsBeverley Stothart
Two British Class 88 locomotives transport a nuclear waste flask wagon across Great Britain. (Photos: NTS)

Since its formation in 2005, the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has been tasked with ensuring that the U.K.’s nuclear legacy sites are decommissioned and cleaned up safely, securely, cost-effectively, and in ways that protect the people and the environment.

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.