Kathryn Huff stepping down from DOE Nuclear Energy post

April 15, 2024, 3:04PMNuclear News

Huff

After serving two years as the Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy, Kathryn Huff will vacate that position on May 3 and return to teaching. Huff had started at the DOE in May 2021, serving for one year as the principal deputy assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy

“Serving in this capacity has been an unparalleled privilege, and I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to have worked alongside you--the dedicated and talented public servants in Nuclear Energy, in DOE, and across the Biden-Harris Administration,” Huff wrote in an email announcement to colleagues last week. “I chose this timing to enable the smoothest transition back to my professorship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where my beloved research, students, husband, and dog await.”

The Watchful Guardian: Argonne’s ARG-US remote monitoring technologies

April 12, 2024, 3:07PMRadwaste SolutionsKevin A. Brown and Yung Liu
The DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. (Photo: DOE)

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are developing and deploying ARG-US (from the Greek Argus, meaning “Watchful Guardian”) remote monitoring systems technologies to enhance the safety, security, and safeguards (3S) of packages of nuclear and other radioactive material during storage, transportation, and disposal.

Taking a train to Texas

April 11, 2024, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The first major shipment of depleted uranium oxide for disposal departs the DOE’s Paducah Site in Kentucky in early 2023 for disposal at the WCS facility in Texas.

Last year in late August, 120 storage cylinders of depleted uranium oxide (DUOx) safely arrived by rail in West Texas, having been shipped from the Department of Energy’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio. It was the first such shipment of the stable crystalline powder from the Portsmouth Site and was another milestone in the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) efforts to ship DUOx for off-site disposal.

SRMC funds STEM scholarships for Voorhees University

April 5, 2024, 12:01PMRadwaste Solutions
SRMC’s Dave Olson (left) presents a $10,000 check to Voorhees University president Ronnie Hopkins. (Photo: SRMS)

Savannah River Mission Completion (SRMC), the liquid waste contractor at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, recently presented a $10,000 check to Voorhees University to fund science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) scholarships.

Hanford lab upgrades for hot work and waste treatment

April 5, 2024, 7:01AMUpdated April 5, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Upgrades are under way at the Hanford Site's 222-S Laboratory, including replacing the Cold War-era windows in the labs hot cells. Photo: DOE)

Upgrades are underway at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site to prepare its 222-S Laboratory to treat tank waste under the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

New DOE guidance on coal-to-nuclear opportunities

April 2, 2024, 3:06PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy issued new guidance this week for converting coal-fired plants to nuclear units—an idea that has gained traction in recent years as the United States looks to cut carbon emissions.

A 2022 DOE study found potential for more than 300 coal-to-nuclear conversions across the country. While the process is complex, it would result in significant environmental and reliability benefits to the grid.

Electron-Ion Collider coming to Brookhaven gets substantial U.K. investment

April 1, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
John Hill, deputy director for science and technology at BNL, with Ruqaiyah Patel, deputy director of UKRI North America, at a recent reception held by UKRI's North America office to mark the funding of the EIC. (Photo: BNL)

The U.S. Department of Energy is constructing the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory to explore the boundaries of nuclear physics—both for the sake of science and to support diverse applications, including in nuclear medicine, radiation safety, and nuclear energy. The project, already supported by international collaborators in 40 countries, just secured a significant commitment from the United Kingdom.

DOE makes conditional commitment to Palisades’ restoration and resumption of service

March 27, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township, Mich.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) today announced a conditional commitment of up to $1.52 billion for a loan guarantee to Holtec Palisades LLC to finance the restoration and resumption of service of the 800-MWe Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert Township, Mich.

Hanson to be renominated as NRC chair and member

March 22, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

Hanson

President Biden announced yesterday his intent to renominate Christopher T. Hanson to be a member and chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Hanson was designated NRC chair by Biden in 2021 and was sworn in as a commissioner on June 8, 2020. He is filling the remainder of a five-year term ending on June 30, 2024.

Experience: Hanson has more than two decades of government and private-sector experience in nuclear energy. Prior to joining the NRC, he served as a staff member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he oversaw civilian and national security nuclear programs. Before working in the Senate, he was a senior advisor in the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. He also worked in the DOE’s Office of the Chief Financial Officer, where he oversaw nuclear and environmental cleanup programs and managed the department’s relationship with congressional appropriations committees.

GAIN awards include plan to integrate fast reactor test vehicle in Oklo’s Aurora

March 21, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
The primary system of THETA at Argonne’s Mechanisms Engineering Test Loop Facility, where Oklo is conducting sodium thermal-hydraulic testing with support from a GAIN award announced in 2021. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory)

The Department of Energy and the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) on March 19 announced the second round of fiscal year 2024 voucher awards to three companies: Element Factory, Kanata America, and Oklo.

Radiation workshop and reactor tour a big draw for educators

March 15, 2024, 12:00PMANS News

The American Nuclear Society has hosted workshops for teachers for years, but the latest Educator Workshop and Research Reactor Tour, which took place in November at the 2023 Winter Conference and Expo, was especially successful. ANS partnered with the University of Maryland for the event, which was part of the Society’s Powering Our Future initiative, sponsored by the Department of Energy.

The arrow is pointing up

March 13, 2024, 7:10AMNuclear NewsKen Petersen

Ken Petersen
president@ans.org

There have been significant changes in the outlook for the existing U.S. nuclear fleet in the last few years. In 2021, we were looking at the early closure of units and could not even think of license extension. Since then, the combination of the U.S. government recognizing the clean-air benefits of nuclear and the impact of the war in Ukraine has resulted in a lot of positive activity on Capitol Hill for nuclear.

Several pieces of legislation have been passed in support of nuclear as law- and policymakers have recognized the important role nuclear power can play in achieving the nation’s clean-air goals. New legislation also is supporting reducing reliance on Russia for uranium enrichment by supporting the domestic production of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

The Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program, which was part of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, included $6 billion to prevent premature retirement of existing zero-carbon nuclear plants. On January 17, the Department of Energy awarded Diablo Canyon $1.1 billion from the CNC Program to support continued operations of the plant.

X-energy’s helium coolant and fuel handling test facility gets EA/FONSI

March 11, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Concept art of the planned X-energy helium test facility. (Image: DOE OCED)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations issued a final environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact in February for a cost-shared X-energy project to construct and operate a helium test facility (HTF) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. According to the EA, construction would begin in early 2024 and take X-energy and its contracted partner, Kinectrics, about one year to complete. the facility would then operate for six years, with the possibility of extensions for up to an additional 20 years, to test equipment for a demonstration of X-energy’s high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor technology and also to “serve the reactor community at large as the technology continues to develop and is adopted around the world.”

NWTRB recommends further analysis of SNF canisters

March 8, 2024, 12:04PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB), the independent federal agency tasked with reviewing the Department of Energy’s activities related to spent nuclear fuel management, issued a new report to Congress and the secretary of energy that examines the storage of spent fuel in dry storage casks at independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSI).

Engineering scholarship established by L&A at WSU Tri-Cities

March 4, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Washington State University Tri-Cities campus. (Photo: WSU)

A new engineering scholarship at Washington State University (WSU) Tri-Cities has been established by Longenecker & Associates for students interested in careers that support Department of Energy missions.

Commercial HALEU supply chain draft EIS now open for comment

March 1, 2024, 9:32AMNuclear News
HALEU reguli fabricated from downblended high-enriched uranium recovered from legacy EBR-II fuel at Idaho National Laboratory. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy yesterday announced a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on HALEU Availability Program plans to purchase high-assay low-enriched uranium under 10-year contracts to seed the development of a sustainable commercial HALEU supply chain.

What is involved in radiation protection at accelerator facilities?

February 29, 2024, 3:03PMNuclear NewsIrina Popova

Irina Popova

Particle accelerators have evolved from exotic machines probing hadron interactions to understand the fundamentals of our world to widely used instruments in research and for medical and industrial use. For research purposes, high-power machines are employed, often producing secondary particle beams through primary beam interaction with a target material involving many meters of shielding. The charged beam interacts with the surrounding structures, producing both prompt radiation and secondary radiation from activated materials. After beam termination, some parts of the facility remain radioactive and potentially can become radiation hazards over time. Radiation protection for accelerator facilities involves a range of actions for operation within safe boundaries (an accelerator safety envelope). Each facility establishes fundamental safety principles, requirements, and measures to control radiation exposure to people and the release of radioactive material in the environment.

DOE eyes WIPP site for potential clean energy projects

February 29, 2024, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy has issued a request for information (RFI) to identify industry partners interested in developing commercial clean energy projects at the DOE’s at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) site in southeast New Mexico.

Type One Energy wants to build a stellarator at retired coal plant

February 23, 2024, 6:59AMNuclear News
TVA's Bull Run fossil plant. (Photo: TVA)

Type One Energy Group announced plans on February 21 to relocate its headquarters from Madison, Wis., to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Bull Run fossil plant in Clinton, Tenn., where it will build a stellarator fusion prototype machine. According to the company, the construction of the stellarator—called Infinity One—could begin in 2025, if necessary environmental reviews, partnership agreements, permits, and operating licenses are all in hand.