ASLB to hear argument against Point Beach license renewal

April 8, 2021, 3:27PMNuclear News
Point Beach Units 1 and 2. Photo: NRC

An atomic safety and licensing board has been established to address a hearing request filed on behalf of an antinuclear group regarding the subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for NextEra Energy’s Point Beach reactors, located near Two Rivers, Wis. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published notice of the panel’s formation in the April 2 Federal Register.

Webinar summary: The role of nuclear in Illinois

April 7, 2021, 3:39PMANS Nuclear CafeAmanda Bachmann, Anna Balla, Jimmy Shehee
Byron Generating Station. Photo: Exelon

The University of Illinois Student Section and Chicago Local Section of the American Nuclear Society hosted a webinar, The Role of Nuclear Power in Illinois, on Wednesday, March 31. The webinar provided information for state lawmakers and the general public about the potential consequences of closing the Byron and Dresden Generating Stations, two of the nuclear power plants in the state of Illinois.

The webinar recording has been archived and is available for viewing for free at the above link.

Bill to preserve Illinois nuclear fleet debuts

March 31, 2021, 5:00AMNuclear News
Exelon's Byron Nuclear Generating Station.

A group of Illinois lawmakers joined Joe Duffy, executive director of the labor coalition Climate Jobs Illinois (CJI), at a virtual news conference on March 29 to unveil a union-focused, clean energy legislative proposal that includes help for the state’s struggling nuclear power plants.

Exelon touts reliability of Illinois nuclear plants

February 24, 2021, 7:02AMNuclear News

The Byron nuclear plant is scheduled to close this September. Photo: Exelon

Amid all the talk of last week’s winter storm and the resultant grid debacle in Texas, Exelon on Monday issued a press release informing customers of just how reliably its Illinois nuclear power plants have been operating this winter.

The release might also be seen as a message to state lawmakers, who have yet to produce any legislation to aid the utility’s financially challenged nuclear facilities—of which two, Byron and Dresden, have been slated for retirement later this year, given the (so-far) absence of such legislation.

Exelon Generation’s workforce development and knowledge transfer strategy

February 12, 2021, 4:10PMNuclear NewsHeather Davis

Students display items they received at a STEM workshop sponsored by Exelon. Photo: Exelon.

The landscape of Exelon Generation’s nuclear business has continued to evolve—even before the complications of a pandemic—but people will always remain the core focus. Our employees and our future employee pipelines are changing almost as fast as technology, which is why the development of the workforce, both present and future, along with the transfer of knowledge across all departments and levels of the organization, must remain adaptable and advance as well.

NRC agrees to review Westinghouse ATF topical report

January 26, 2021, 3:03PMNuclear News

Westinghouse last week announced via blog post that a topical report on its Advanced Doped Pellet Technology (ADOPT) fuel has been accepted for review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, calling the decision a “major achievement for the advanced fuel portfolio Westinghouse is developing as part of our EnCore fuel program.”

The company submitted the report in May of last year, requesting approval by February 2022. According to Westinghouse, a draft safety evaluation from the agency is expected this summer.

NRC accepts Point Beach SLR application

January 26, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review NextEra Energy’s subsequent license renewal (SLR) application for its Point Beach reactors, making them the fifth and sixth units currently under consideration for a second 20-year license renewal. (SLR applications for Dominion Energy’s North Anna-1 and -2 and Surry-1 and -2 are also being reviewed, while SLR approval has been granted for Exelon’s Peach Bottom and NextEra’s Turkey Point units.)

NextEra submitted the SLR application in November of last year—the first such application involving a Midwestern nuclear plant. The NRC approved the plant’s initial license renewal in December 2005, allowing Unit 1 to operate through October 5, 2030, and Unit 2 through March 8, 2033.

Fuel innovation: Powering nuclear modernization

January 18, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear NewsBen Holtzman

Today’s U.S. commercial nuclear power plants are fueled with uranium dioxide pressed into cylindrical ceramic pellets—and have been for decades. These pellets are stacked inside long fuel rods made of a zirconium alloy cladding. Innovation in nuclear fuel, however, can improve safety, reduce operating costs, and further enable the development of a new generation of non-light-water reactors.

EIA: Nuclear, coal will account for majority of U.S. generating capacity retirements in 2021

January 13, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest inventory of electric generators, 9.1 gigawatts (GW) of electric generating capacity is scheduled to retire in 2021.

In total, it appears that 30 plants (nuclear, coal, petroleum, and others) will be retired in 2021. Five nuclear reactors are included in the closure list—Indian Point-3, Byron (two units at the plant), and Dresden (two units at the plant). Those three plants produce 5.1 GW of power, accounting for more than half of the total capacity expected to be retired.

Searching for lost revenue from shut-down nuclear plants, NY law allows towns to assess waste storage

January 12, 2021, 9:29AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Indian Point nuclear power plant. Photo: Entergy Nuclear

Communities across the United States where nuclear power plants have been shut down face huge gaps in tax revenues, sometimes in the tens of millions of dollars. States such as New Jersey, Illinois, Wisconsin, and California are watching events in New York now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a new law that says cities can “assess the economic value of storing waste” on sites where nuclear plants once operated, as reported by Bloomberg.

The year in review 2020: Power and Operations

January 8, 2021, 9:35AMNuclear News

Here is a look back at the top stories of 2020 from our Power and Operations section in Newswire and Nuclear News magazine. Remember to check back to Newswire soon for more top stories from 2020.

Power and Operations section

Exelon CEO urges Illinois legislators to save nuclear plants

January 6, 2021, 3:01PMNuclear News

Crane

Christopher Crane, president and chief executive officer of Exelon, wrote in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed, “The failure of national energy markets to support clean energy will soon force the premature retirement of two of [Illinois’s] six zero-carbon nuclear plants, putting thousands of people out of work, raising energy costs, and taking us decades backward in the fight against climate change."

Crane urged Illinois policymakers to act quickly, as they face critical decisions about the future of energy that will affect the state’s environment, the economy, and the health of every family for years to come.

Game-playing AI technique may lead to cheaper nuclear energy

January 4, 2021, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

In this AI-designed layout for a boiling water reactor, fuel rods are ideally positioned around two fixed water rods to burn more efficiently. MIT researchers ran the equivalent of 36,000 simulations to find the optimal configurations. Colors correspond to varying amounts of uranium and gadolinium oxide in each rod. Image: Majdi Radaideh/MIT

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Exelon show that by turning the nuclear fuel assembly design process into a game, an artificial intelligence system can be trained to generate dozens of optimal configurations that can make each fuel rod last about 5 percent longer, saving a typical power plant an estimated $3 million a year, the researchers report.

The AI system can also find optimal solutions faster than a human and can quickly modify designs in a safe, simulated environment. The results appear in the journal Nuclear Engineering and Design.

Study completed on BWRX-300 deployment in Poland

December 22, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

The completion of a study assessing the feasibility of deploying a fleet of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH) BWRX-300 small modular reactors in Poland was announced recently by the Polish firm Synthos Green Energy (SGE).

The feasibility study, which was prepared by Exelon Generation, was not made publicly available by SGE. The study covers the analysis of key aspects of SMR technology implementation, including cost issues, personnel policy, regulatory and security issues, construction models, and operational issues, according to SGE.

SGE is a subsidiary of Synthos S.A., a manufacturer of synthetic rubber and one of the biggest producers of chemical raw materials in Poland. According to SGE, it views SMR technology as an opportunity for the deep decarbonization of Polish industry and the country's heating sector.

Local leader speaks out to keep Byron nuclear plant open

December 14, 2020, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Chesney

An Illinois lawmaker is hopeful that legislation is coming in the state that would benefit nuclear power plants. “I believe we’re going to have an incentive program that will be in partisan legislation,” said Andrew Chesney, Illinois state representative for the 89th District.

Chesney’s comment was included in a video story that aired on a TV news channel in Rockford, Ill. The news story focused on the negative financial impact that would result if the Byron nuclear power plant were to close in 2021.

Local pol goes digital to save Illinois nuclear plant

October 14, 2020, 9:46AMNuclear News

Demmer

Illinois State Representative Tom Demmer (R., Dixon) announced last week the creation of a website, savebyron.com, devoted to preventing the early closure of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear power plant.

According to the October 9 announcement, Demmer began working with the city of Byron, Ill.-based Wave Marketing to create the website following Exelon’s August decision to prematurely retire both the Byron plant and the Dresden nuclear plant, located in Morris, Ill., absent state legislation to aid the financially troubled facilities. Byron’s two pressurized water reactors are currently slated to cease operation in September of next year, followed in November by Dresden’s two boiling water reactors.

Calling balls and strikes

October 13, 2020, 3:00PMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

As a not-for-profit scientific and professional organization, the American Nuclear Society’s raison d’être has always been the advancement of nuclear science and technology. While many among our diverse ranks may see themselves as advocates, it is important to recognize that ANS the organization will never take the place of industry trade associations like the Nuclear Energy Institute or the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council. No, we will always be dedicated first to serving the men and women of the nuclear community, both here in the United States and around the world, as a source of news, technical knowledge, professional development opportunities, and scientific fellowship.

This should not in any way dissuade us, however—either individually or as a community—from engaging in the public discussion about nuclear technology, especially when debates become tainted by outright falsehoods or “fake news.” As we have seen in stark relief over the past eight months of pandemic-dominated life, the scientific community has a societal obligation to stand up and set the record straight when misinformation crops up. Simply put, we have to be prepared to call balls and strikes.

NRC denies challenge to Three Mile Island’s emergency plan

October 9, 2020, 12:12PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected a petition by Three Mile Island Alert (TMIA) challenging Exelon’s request to revise its site emergency plan for the closed Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. Exelon submitted a request to the NRC to amend its TMI-1 license to reflect the reduced risks of the defueled reactor, which was permanently shut down in September 2019.

In an order issued on October 8, the NRC commissioners upheld a decision by an NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denying TMIA’s petition to intervene and request a hearing in the license amendment request. That decision, issued on January 23, 2020, found that the antinuclear group had not established standing in the case and that its contentions were inadmissible.

Labor union leader weighs in on closure of Illinois nuclear plants

September 28, 2020, 11:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Lonnie Stephenson, international president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, wrote an op-ed published in the September 25 Chicago Sun-Times touting the benefits of nuclear power in Illinois and decrying Exelon’s plan to prematurely shutter the Byron and Dresden plants.