Export control of deuterium shifts from NRC to Commerce Department

October 7, 2021, 9:36AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is relinquishing its licensing authority for exports of deuterium for nonnuclear use to the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security. The NRC said that the change reflects the growing peaceful use of deuterium, including heavy water, as well as deuterium gas and deuterium or deuterated compounds, for nonnuclear industrial and research activities.

Root causes of NIST reactor alert point to operator training

October 6, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
A rendering of the core of the NBSR, which consists of 30 aluminum-cladded plate-type U3O8 fuel elements with a 17.8-cm gap between elements. (Image: NCNR Technical Working Group, Root Cause Investigation of February 2021 Fuel Failure) (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has submitted two reports and supplemental information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after conducting a root cause analysis of the February 2021 fuel failure and resultant alert at the NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) in Gaithersburg, Md. While the 20-MWt NCNR research reactor remains shut down, scuttling the plans of researchers who rely on it as a source of both cold and thermal neutrons, NIST states in an October 4 update that it has requested permission to restart the reactor, contingent upon meeting all 18 corrective actions identified.

NRC suspends authority to ship heavy water to China

October 4, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

Citing national security interests, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an order suspending the general license authority to export radioactive material and deuterium to China General Nuclear (CGN) and its subsidiaries or related entities.

The NRC licensees subject to the order had been authorized to ship radioactive materials and heavy water to China through a general license granted in sections 110.21 through 110.24 of 10 CFR Part 110. Notice of the order was published in the October 1 Federal Register.

Three Studies in Site Remediation

September 21, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste SolutionsJeremy Kartchner

For any nuclear power plant that has been permanently shut down, site restoration is the ultimate decommissioning goal when contracting with a utility to demolish a facility. The task, however, is not as simple as mobilizing heavy equipment and waving a wrecking ball or planting explosives to implode the facility, then loading up the debris and sending it to a landfill.

There is a real science and engineering approach necessary to safely restore the land to its original state. That has been the goal for EnergySolutions over the past decade as the company works to safely decommission shuttered nuclear power plants—packaging, transporting, and disposing of the waste, and restoring the sites for whatever reuse the owners and host communities see fit.

Spent fuel facility receives NRC license days after Texas moves to ban it

September 14, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Click to open full graphic

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a license to Interim Storage Partners (ISP), a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews, Texas. Issued on September 13, the license comes just four days after Texas governor Greg Abbott signed a bill to block such a facility from being built in the state.

Release of La Crosse and Zion sites for unrestricted use delayed until 2022

September 13, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste 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 has extended its orders transferring the licenses for the La Crosse and Zion nuclear power plants from EnergySolutions back to the plant owners until late 2022. This is the third time the NRC has extended the effectiveness of the license transfer orders for the decommissioned plants since approving them in 2019.

Pamela Cowan: The Fleet Approach to D&D

September 10, 2021, 2:23PMRadwaste Solutions

Pamela Cowen

Having spent more than 25 years in the commercial nuclear power community, Pam Cowan has spent time in both the front- and back-end operations of nuclear power. It is this experience that she draws upon as the senior vice president and chief operating officer of Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) to help her build a growing fleet of power plants undergoing decommissioning and demolition.

Cowan, who came to HDI from the Nuclear Energy Institute, is also senior vice president of decommissioning and regulatory affairs for HDI parent company Holtec International and president of the Nuclear Asset Management Company, the owner of the plants. Cowan also serves as a member of the board of directors of Comprehensive Decommissioning International, a decommissioning general contractor, jointly owned by Holtec and SNC-Lavalin.

Radwaste Solutions spoke to Cowan about Holtec’s fleet approach to decommissioning and her plans for HDI.

(Editor's note: Soon after this article was published in Radwaste Solutions, Westinghouse Electric Company announced that Pam Cowan had been appointed president of the company's Americas operating plant services unit. Cowan takes over the business on September 21, following the retirement of current president, David Howell.)

NRC looking to fill open ACRS position

September 9, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking qualified candidates for an open position on its Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. The ACRS is an advisory group that provides independent technical review of, and advice on, matters related to the safety of existing and proposed nuclear facilities and on the adequacy of proposed reactor safety standards. It also advises the NRC on health physics and radiation protection issues.

Interested individuals can find candidate criteria and details in the Federal Register notice published on September 8 and available on the NRC’s website. Resumes will be accepted until December 7.

Resumes should be sent to Makeeka Compton and Jamila Perry, ACRS, Mail Stop T2B50, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, or e-mailed to Makeeka.Compton@nrc.gov and Jamila.Perry@nrc.gov.

More information on the ACRS is available on the NRC’s website.

Hurricane Ida causes Waterford shutdown, reduced power at River Bend

September 1, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Hurricane Ida knocked out all transmission lines into New Orleans, leaving more than a million people without power. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was monitoring events at three nuclear power reactors in Louisiana and Mississippi after Hurricane Ida made landfall on August 29. With winds of 150 miles per hour, the Category 4 storm left more than 1 million people without power in the two states. Ida has since weakened to a tropical storm.

Sandia expands software billed as “Swiss Army knife” of nuclear system safety

August 30, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Sandia's Brad Beeny (left) and Larry Humphries examine remnants from a series of lower head failure experiments. Results from these and other experiments are used to inform nuclear accident modeling computer code. (Photo: Randy Montoya)

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have been expanding MELCOR—the severe accident modeling computer code used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to evaluate the safety of light water reactors—to study the small modular reactors and non-light-water advanced reactors that are under development. An article published in Sandia Lab News on August 27 describes in detail how MELCOR is being expanded to work with different reactor geometries, fuel types, and coolant systems.

Rewriting the script: The real story of advanced reactors

August 19, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier
The EBR-II sodium fast reactor at Idaho National Laboratory began operations in 1964 and generated electricity for decades. Soon it will serve as a National Reactor Innovation Center test bed for future advanced reactor demonstrations. (Source: ANL)

At the box office or streaming at home, it’s fear, not truth, that sells. The laws of physics are swept aside, apocalypse is inevitable, and superpowered heroes wait until the last possible second to save the universe. It can make for great entertainment, but in the real world we need to stick with science over science fiction and be wowed by engineering, not special effects.

The truth is, science and innovation are incredible in their own right. From communications and machine learning to space travel and medical advances, technology is evolving in hyperdrive to solve real problems. With climate change and global warming here on earth, we don’t have to go looking for trouble in a galaxy far, far away.

NRC to hold a second meeting on Indian Point decommissioning plan

August 11, 2021, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding a virtual meeting on August 18 to discuss and receive comments regarding Holtec International’s decommissioning plan for the Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York. A hybrid meeting was held on July 29 in Tarrytown, N.Y., with a phone line available for those who opted not to attend in person. However, local storms and technical issues resulted in remote participants experiencing audio problems.

ORNL to test accident tolerant fuel irradiated at Byron-2

August 4, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Irradiated lead test rods are delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for examination. (Photo: ORNL)

Several lead test rods of Westinghouse’s EnCore accident tolerant fuel recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for post-irradiation examination over the next year in support of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The rods were installed in 2019 in Exelon’s Byron-2, a 1,158-MWe pressurized water reactor, and were removed in fall 2020 and prepared for shipment to ORNL.

NRC issues final environmental study for proposed Texas storage facility

July 29, 2021, 12:11PMRadwaste Solutions
(Source: Interim Storage Partners)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final environmental impact statement on an application by Interim Storage Partners for a license to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. After considering the environmental impacts of the proposed action, the NRC announced today that its staff has recommended granting the proposed license.

Metz on Harold Denton: Memories of a life in nuclear safety

July 23, 2021, 2:54PMNuclear News


A number of years ago, historian and writer Chuck Metz Jr. was at the Bush’s Visitor Center in Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains when he ran into former Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Harold Denton and his wife. Metz was at the visitor center, which opened in 2010 and is now a tourist hotspot, because, as he explained to the Dentons at the time, he had overseen the development of its on-site museum and had written a companion coffee-table history book.

The chance meeting turned into a friendship and a fruitful collaboration. Denton, who in 1979 was the public spokesperson for the NRC as the Three Mile Island-2 accident unfolded, had been working on his memoir, but he was stuck. He asked Metz for help with the organization and compilation of his notes. “I was about to retire,” Metz said, “but I thought that exploring the nuclear world might be an interesting change of pace.”

Denton passed away in 2017, but by then Metz had spent many hours with his fast friend and was able to complete the memoir, Three Mile Island and Beyond: Memories of a Life in Nuclear Safety, which was published recently by ANS. Metz shared some of his thoughts about Denton and the book with Nuclear News. The interview was conducted by NN’s David Strutz.

ANS urges Biden to quickly fill NRC vacancies

July 9, 2021, 6:04AMANS News
Former commissioner Annie Caputo left the NRC when her term expired at the end of June.

In a July 1 letter to President Biden, ANS President Steven Nesbit and ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy stated that a full complement of five commissioners is essential to the effectiveness of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in protecting public health and safety while enabling the deployment and applications of nuclear technology.

NRC decision on Holtec’s interim storage facility expected by January

July 8, 2021, 11:54AMRadwaste Solutions
An artist's rendering of the HI-STORE facility (Image: Holtec)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to complete its safety review of Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility by January 2022. A final licensing decision on the facility will be made in conjunction with the release of the agency’s final safety evaluation report, the NRC said in a July 2 letter to Holtec.

NRC discontinues consideration of 40-year license renewals

July 6, 2021, 9:34AMNuclear News
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters (photo: U.S. NRC)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has halted efforts to consider allowing U.S. nuclear power plant owners to request 40-year license renewals for their facilities, the agency announced on Facebook and Twitter on July 2. Currently, the maximum potential operating lifespan for a plant is 80 years: 40 years with the original license, 20 more with an initial license renewal, and another 20 with a second renewal.

NRC to consider GE Hitachi’s application to renew the Morris ISFSI license

July 2, 2021, 12:07PMRadwaste Solutions
Aerial view of the Morris Operation in Illinois. (Image: GE Hitachi)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has begun its review of GE Hitachi’s application to renew the license of its Morris Operation, the spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Grundy County, Ill. Notice of the 20-year license renewal application, along with an opportunity to request a hearing or petition for leave to intervene by August 30 was published in the June 30 Federal Register.