U.S., Canada sign MOU on safeguards and nonproliferation

Brent Park, the NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Richard Sexton (on screen), president and chief executive officer of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, show the signed agreement. Photo: NNSA

The United States and Canada have signed a memorandum of understanding—Cooperation and Exchange of Information in Nuclear Security, Safeguards, and Nonproliferation Matters—to enable a more effective collaboration between the two countries in the areas of nuclear safety and security.

The five-year agreement was signed virtually on October 16 by Brent Park, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and two Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) executives: Richard Sexton, president and chief executive officer, and Shannon Quinn, vice president of Science, Technology, and Commercial Oversight.

A national security argument for U.S. leadership on nuclear power

A recent commentary from Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy—the second in a series by the center’s Matt Bowen titled “Why the United States Should Remain Engaged on Nuclear Power”—examines the geopolitical and national security implications of the United States’ relinquishing the international nuclear energy marketplace to China and Russia.

NNSA assists in removal of HEU from Kazakhstan

The last remaining batch of unirradiated high-enriched uranium in Kazakhstan has been eliminated, the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration has announced.

The action fulfills a pledge made by the United States and Kazakh governments one year ago at the 2019 International Atomic Energy Agency’s General Conference, according to a September 22 NNSA news release.

DOE ends dispute with South Carolina on Pu removal

The DOE is working to remove plutonium stored at its Savannah River Site.

The Department of Energy has reached a settlement with the state of South Carolina to remove 9.5 metric tons (t) of plutonium from the state, the agency announced on August 31. Under the settlement, which resolves litigation over the storage of surplus plutonium at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., the state will receive an upfront lump sum of $600 million in economic and impact assistance payments. In return, the DOE will be allowed more time (through 2037) to remove the plutonium from the state without the threat of lawsuits.

The settlement stems from the DOE's termination of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in 2018. The MOX facility was intended to meet a nonproliferation agreement between the United States and Russia to dispose of 34 t of weapons-grade plutonium by converting it to nuclear fuel for commercial power reactors. Reported to be 70-percent completed when construction was halted, the MOX facility was approximately $13 billion over budget and 32 years behind schedule, according to the DOE.

NNSA site tour continues for administrator

NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty spoke during the agency's 20th Anniversary Celebration event that recognized milestones at the Pantex Plant. Source: NNSA

Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, NNSA administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty is continuing with her trip to visit NNSA’s eight laboratories, plants, and sites.

Last week, Gordon-Hagerty was at the Pantex Plant, in Amarillo, Texas, for a 20th Anniversary Celebration of the NNSA.

So far, the tour of sites, which began in July, has taken Gordon-Hagerty to the Savannah River Site in Aiken, S.C.; Sandia National Laboratories and the NNSA Albuquerque Complex in Albuquerque, N.M.; and Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., in addition to the Pantex Plant. She is expected to complete the tour by year’s end.

The National Atomic Testing Museum presents Distinguished Lecture Series webinar

Brent Park, NNSA deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. Photo: NNSA

The National Atomic Testing Museum is hosting a free webinar on July 30 at 9 p.m. (EDT) featuring Brent Park, the National Nuclear Security Administration's deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. Registration is required.

The webinar is part of the museum’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

Park, a nuclear physicist with 30 years of experience at Department of Energy national laboratories, currently leads the NNSA's efforts to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation and reduce the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism around the world.

Grants will enhance nuclear medicine and radiology services in Africa

Representatives from African countries assembled in 2019 at an event hosted by Nigeria to discuss the need for assistance in nuclear medicine and radiology. Photo: NNSA

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration has awarded grants totaling $1.5 million to support an increase in medical staff and the building of facilities and equipment in sub-Saharan Africa, the agency announced on July 27.

The grants of $750,000 each were awarded to the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI).

Draft appropriations bill hikes nuclear energy funding

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday released a draft of the fiscal year 2021 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill, calling for higher levels of funding for nuclear energy. The legislation would fund activities at the Departments of Energy and Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and a number of related agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

DOE awards $350-million contract for Nevada site cleanup

Oak Ridge, Tenn.–based Navarro Research and Engineering has been awarded a 10-year environmental program services contract worth up to $350 million for cleanup services at the Nevada National Security Site, the Department of Energy announced on June 17. The new contract replaces the current NNSS cleanup contract, also held by Navarro Research and Engineering, which expires on July 31.

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Waste Management Conference: Focused on the future

2020 Waste Management Conference plenary speakers included (from left) Michael Lempke, of Huntington Ingalls Industries, William Magwood, of the NEA, and the DOE’s William “Ike” White. Photo: WM Symposia/Flash Gordon.

The 2020 Waste Management Conference, held March 8–12 in Phoenix, Ariz., kicked off just days before the World Health Organization declared the spread of the novel coronavirus a pandemic. When the conference began, it was still unclear how extensive the coronavirus outbreak would be, and meeting organizers later learned that two attendees were tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, in the days following the meeting. Fortunately, neither of the attendees tested positive.

National Academies: Disposing of surplus plutonium at WIPP viable

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s early-stage plan to dilute and dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus plutonium in the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) is technically viable, according to an April 30 release from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.