DOE releases updated cleanup strategy

March 10, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued EM Strategic Vision 2022-2032, a blueprint for planned nuclear-related cleanup efforts over the next decade. The document outlines environmental cleanup priorities for 2022–2032, focusing on safety, innovation, and improved performance.

According to a March 8 statement, the DOE is working to fulfill “the moral and ecological responsibility of safely dealing with contamination and delivering on environmental justice goals in communities that were vital to the development of nuclear weapons and advances in government-sponsored nuclear energy research.”

EM Strategic Vision 2022–2032, which is available here, is an update of previous iterations and was developed with feedback from regulators, tribal nations, local communities, and other partners.

Hanford K East Reactor cocooning project taking shape

March 8, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendering of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Photo: DOE)

Preparations are being made to enclose, or “cocoon,” the K East Reactor, the seventh of nine former reactors at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. The cocooning project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Watch this video for more on the project.

DOE expands minority partnership program for post-doctoral researchers

March 1, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management recently announced the expansion of its Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program for post-doctoral researchers.

The program will offer the opportunity for recent graduates with Ph.D. degrees to perform scientific research that furthers technology development, enhances the global scientific knowledge base, and results in publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

Final EIS for Project Pele microreactor available

February 25, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of a potential mobile microreactor site at Test Pad D in INL’s Critical Infrastructure Test Range Complex for the grid operation phase of Project Pele. (Image: DOD)

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is looking to reduce its reliance on local electric grids and diesel-fueled generators at military installations. Project Pele is designed to demonstrate the technical and safety features of mobile microreactors capable of generating up to 5 MWe.

Radiography unit at SRS verifies contents of TRU shipments to WIPP

February 16, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Operators load a TRU waste drum into a real-time radiography unit for characterization at the Solid Waste Management Facility at the Savannah River Site. (Photos: DOE)

Operators at the Savannah River Site’s Solid Waste Management Facility can now characterize and certify newly generated TRU waste through the use of a real-time radiography unit that uses an X-ray system to examine the contents of waste containers. The equipment was recently installed to meet updated requirements set by the Department of Energy’s National TRU Program that involve evaluating the containers for chemical compatibility and oxidizing chemicals.

The shipments of TRU waste from SRS, in South Carolina, are sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), in New Mexico, for disposal.

NN Asks: What fuels your commitment to nuclear technology?

February 8, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear NewsKelly Hartless

When I came to work at BWX Technologies immediately after getting my degree in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia, I was amazed to see how nuclear energy could be harnessed to both power and protect our country. Since then, I’ve come to see that nuclear energy can do even more. The nuclear industry’s next tasks are to address climate change, propel us to other bodies in the solar system, and provide power when we arrive. Recently developed coated fuels are an enabling technology for these tasks.

DOE hires contractor for completion of Moab remediation work

February 7, 2022, 7:02AMRadwaste Solutions
The Moab cleanup site in Utah in 2018. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) has awarded a cleanup contract to North Wind Portage, Inc. for completion of environmental remediation of a uranium ore processing site near Moab, Utah. North Wind Portage is located in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

More information about the Moab project is available here.

The need for a metallic nuclear fuels qualification plan

February 4, 2022, 3:13PMNuclear NewsHank Hogan, Steven Hayes, Nicolas Woolstenhulme, and Colby Jensen

Positioning nuclear power to combat climate change requires the rollout of advanced reactors to replace carbon-­emitting power generation. That necessity, and its urgency, is reflected in recent budget proposals for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. Part of that proposed funding focuses on deploying new fuel technologies.

Metallic fuels, which are alloys of fissionable material, offer several advantages, including more fuel-­efficient reactors with a double or greater fuel burnup than the oxide fuels found in light water reactors. Fuel fabrication is also more cost-­effective with metallic fuels than with oxide fuels. Furthermore, much of the research and development effort needed to qualify these metallic fuels has been done.

Alaska bill would simplify microreactor siting: Here’s what you need to know

February 2, 2022, 6:59AMNuclear News
This image is described by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power as a conceptual layout of a generic small modular reactor or microreactor. (Image: ACEP)

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R.) introduced “An act relating to microreactors” (SB 177) in the Alaska state legislature on February 1 that would modify existing state law on nuclear energy by specifying that microreactors are not subject to certain nuclear reactor siting and permitting regulations in Alaska. The bill defines a microreactor as an advanced nuclear fission reactor that would be capable of generating no more than 50 MWe.

Agreement reached on cleanup of 25-mile Savannah River Site stream corridor

January 31, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
An SRNS subcontractor technician takes radiological readings of soil near Lower Three Runs, part of a major project to complete the cleanup of a contaminated 25-mile-long stream corridor at SRS. (Photo: DOE) (CLICK TO SEE FULL PHOTO)

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the Department of Energy’s management and operating contractor for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, has reached an agreement with the state of South Carolina and federal environmental regulators on the final cleanup of a 25-mile-long stream corridor at the site that was radiologically contaminated as a result of operations during the Cold War.

The corridor consists of Par Pond, nine miles of canals adjacent to the pond, and a stream named Lower Three Runs. The stream begins near the center of the site, just above Par Pond, and winds its way southward across SRS.

Vogtle-2 to test Westinghouse fuel enriched to 6 percent

January 31, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
ADOPT fuel pellets developed by Westinghouse through the DOE's Accident Tolerant Fuel Program. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Southern Nuclear have agreed to a plan to install four Westinghouse lead test assemblies in Vogtle-2, a 1,169-MWe pressurized water reactor located in Waynesboro, Ga. Four lead test assemblies containing uranium enriched up to 6 percent U-235 will be loaded in Vogtle-2 in 2023, marking the first time that fuel rods with uranium enriched above 5 percent U-235 are put in use in a U.S. commercial power reactor.

Savannah River employees honored with Secretary of Energy Achievement Awards

January 28, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A cask of HEU arrives at the H Canyon facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy announced yesterday that Secretary of Energy Achievement Awards were presented to a team of Savannah River Site employees for the completion of the multiyear Target Residue Material (TRM) campaign to support global nuclear security goals.

SRS is a 310-square-mile site located in South Carolina. It encompasses parts of Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale counties and is bordered on the west by the Savannah River and the state of Georgia.

Burning plasma state achieved at Lawrence Livermore Lab

January 27, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of the two inertial confinement fusion designs reaching the burning plasma regime, as published in a recent article in Nature. (Image: LLNL)

One of the last remaining milestones in fusion research before attaining ignition and self-sustaining energy production is creating a burning plasma, where the fusion reactions themselves are the primary source of heating in the plasma. A paper published in the journal Nature on January 26 describes recent experiments at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF) that have achieved a burning plasma state.

BWXT to demonstrate TRISO fuel line operations under contract extension

January 24, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear News

BWX Technologies announced on January 24 that it has been awarded a $4.9 million contract amendment to produce TRISO fuel particles using natural uranium and to demonstrate performance under a defined production schedule. BWXT’s Nuclear Operations Group will perform the work at BWXT’s Lynchburg, Va., facility, where TRISO production was restarted in November 2020. The contract amendment was awarded by Battelle Energy Alliance, which manages Idaho National Laboratory on behalf of the Department of Energy.

Huff nominated to fill role of assistant secretary of energy for DOE-NE

January 19, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News


Kathryn “Katy” Huff, who is currently serving as the Department of Energy's principal deputy assistant secretary of nuclear energy, has been nominated by President Joe Biden to head the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy as assistant secretary of energy. The role has been vacant since Rita Baranwal announced she was leaving the position on January 8, 2021.

Sustained commitment: Since Huff was named principal deputy assistant secretary of nuclear energy in May 2021, she has also served as acting assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy.

Huff is on unpaid leave from her role as associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she led the Advanced Reactors and Fuel Cycles Research Group. Huff was also a Blue Waters assistant professor with the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. Prior to joining the NPRE faculty at UIUC, Huff was a postdoctoral fellow in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Science and Security Consortium and the Berkeley Institute for Data Science at the University of California–Berkeley. Huff received her Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2013, and her undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Chicago.

Oak Ridge project team honored with Achievement Award

January 13, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Oak Ridge before-and-after views: At left is the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant when it was closed in the late 1980s, and at right is a view of the site today, known as the East Tennessee Technology Park. (Photo: DOE)

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm honored a Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (EM) team from Oak Ridge with the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award during a virtual ceremony yesterday for successfully removing a former uranium enrichment complex. The project cleared 13 million square feet of deteriorated, contaminated structures from the site.

Hanford completes cleanup at Plutonium Finishing Plant

January 12, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Click to see full image. (Photo: DOE)

Department of Energy contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company recently completed final demolition activities at the Hanford Site’s former Plutonium Finishing Plant, which was once one of the most hazardous facilities in the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) cleanup complex.

Check out this time-lapse video of the plant’s demolition from October 2016 through November 2021.

DOE and NNSA partner with SHINE for domestic Mo-99

January 10, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management (EM) have signed the first contracts under the DOE’s Uranium Lease and Take-back Program with SHINE Technologies. The DOE called it a milestone in its effort to increase domestic production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99), a medical isotope used in more than 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day, without the use of high-enriched uranium.

SHINE Technologies, of Janesville, Wis., is one of the NNSA’s cooperative agreement partners. In October 2021, the NNSA awarded SHINE $35 million to support its efforts to produce Mo-99 commercially by the end of 2023.

Click here for more information on the NNSA efforts to establish a reliable supply of Mo‑99 without the use of HEU.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News October through December

January 7, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear News

This is the fifth of five articles posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the October-December time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News April through June

January 7, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

This is the third of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the April-June time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.