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.

American Nuclear Society urges Biden to fill NRC seats

July 1, 2021, 4:46PMPress Releases

The American Nuclear Society (ANS) requests President Biden restore the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to five commissioners by naming and expediting nominees to the agency. The impending vacancy of Commissioner Annie Caputo’s seat after June 30 will reduce the five-member NRC to three commissioners. NRC commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for staggered five-year terms.

NRC rejects challenges to TMI-2 license transfer, ISP’s license application

June 24, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dismissed a challenge to the previously approved transfer of the license for the shuttered Three Mile Island-2 power reactor from FirstEnergy to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions for decommissioning. The order by the NRC commissioners denying the motion by Three Mile Island Alert to hold the license transfer in abeyance was issued on June 22.

How the NRC modernized its digital I&C infrastructure and where it goes from here

June 11, 2021, 3:20PMNuclear NewsEric J. Benner and Steven A. Arndt

The Nuclear Regulatory Commissiona first formally developed infrastructure for the review of digital instrumentation and control (I&C) systems in the 1990s. Although the current fleet of nuclear power plants in the United States was originally designed and constructed with analog systems, the U.S. nuclear industry has for more than 30 years been working to upgrade these older systems with modern digital equipment.

NRC awards $10.7 million in academic grants

June 9, 2021, 9:31AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on June 8 that it has awarded 30 academic grants to 26 academic institutions in 19 states, totaling nearly $10.7 million. The funds will support scholarships, fellowships, and faculty development at four-year universities and colleges, two-year trade schools and community colleges, and minority-serving institutions.

NRC reports nine abnormal occurrences in FY 2020

June 8, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent to Congress its annual report on abnormal occurrences involving the medical and industrial uses of radioactive material. An abnormal occurrence is defined by law as an unscheduled incident or event that the NRC determines to be significant from the standpoint of public health or safety. The NRC sets specific criteria, most recently updated in October 2017, for determining which events qualify.

Nuclear I&C Modernization: The Future is Digital

June 4, 2021, 9:34AMSponsored ContentRobert Ammon, Technical Director of Digital Safety Systems at Curtiss-Wright Nuclear Division

As the U.S. nuclear industry moves into plant life extension and subsequent license renewals, the modernization of safety instrumentation and control (I&C) systems holds significant potential to transform plant operations. Automated system diagnostics, equipment health monitoring, and performance indications reduce the need for manual surveillance activities and enable condition-based maintenance, resulting in improved system reliability and reduced maintenance costs. Despite these benefits, adoption of digital I&C systems for safety-related applications across the domestic nuclear fleet has been slow. U.S. nuclear power plants that do choose to embrace the transition from analog to digital are in good company; international plants have successfully implemented digital safety systems for more than a decade. Furthermore, digital safety systems are also the first choice of the growing small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor (AR) communities.

SHINE allowed more flexibility in procuring production components

May 18, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
SHINE executives, construction managers, and partners commemorate a construction milestone of the medical isotope production facility in March. (Photo: SHINE)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request by SHINE Medical Technologies for an exemption from regulations on how commercial grade equipment is defined, allowing the company to more easily procure components for the medical isotope production facility it is building in Janesville, Wis.

NorthStar to ship Vermont Yankee’s low-activity wastewater to Idaho

May 10, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The closed Vermont Yankee power plant is currently undergoing decommissioning. (Photo: Entergy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is set to allow about 2 million gallons of low-level radioactive wastewater from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, currently undergoing decommissioning, to be disposed of at an Idaho waste facility. As published in the May 7 Federal Register, the NRC has issued an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact for a request by NorthStar Nuclear Decommissioning to dispose of the wastewater at US Ecology Idaho’s waste facility near Grand View.

D.C. court dismisses challenge to NRC’s low-level waste policy

May 7, 2021, 12:06PMRadwaste Solutions

A federal court has dismissed a claim by the Nuclear Energy Institute that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had reversed decades of established policy by requiring owners and operators of nuclear power plants to obtain the agency’s approval to dispose of low-level radioactive waste, even in NRC Agreement States.

At issue was a letter the NRC sent to NEI in 2019, stating that licensees must receive agency approval before disposing of LLW. In response, NEI filed a lawsuit against the NRC, claiming that the letter imposes new obligations on licensees without the NRC’s having followed rulemaking procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act, including publishing notice of the new policy and receiving input from stakeholders prior to implementation.


The nuclear community remembers Pete Lyons

May 3, 2021, 11:59AMNuclear News

Peter Lyons, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioner (2005–2009) and assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy (2011–2015), has passed away.

American Nuclear Society President Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar and executive director/CEO Craig Piercy issued the following statement on May 3:

“We are saddened to hear about the death of Peter Lyons. An ANS fellow and member since 2003, Pete will be remembered for his inspiring leadership and distinguished public service career that spanned five decades. His legacy and vision for a nuclear renaissance will continue to inspire future generations of nuclear professionals. Our thoughts today are with his family and loved ones.”

The PRA standard for advanced non-LWRs

April 23, 2021, 2:55PMNuclear NewsKarl Fleming

The ASME/ANS Joint Committee on Nuclear Risk Management (JCNRM) has achieved a significant milestone in the advancement of probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) technology. ANSI/ASME/ANS RA-­S-­1.4–2021 [1], Probabilistic Risk Assessment Standard for Advanced Non-­Light Water Reactor Nuclear Power Plants, has been approved by the JCNRM, the ANS Standards Board, the ASME Board of Nuclear Codes and Standards, and the American Nuclear Standards Institute.

NRC seeks comments on AI’s role in U.S. nuclear power fleet

April 22, 2021, 3:04PMNuclear News

As predictive analytical tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) show promise in improving nuclear reactor safety while offering economic savings. To get a better understanding of current usage and future trends in AI and ML in the commercial nuclear power industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking comments from the public, the nuclear industry, and other stakeholders, as well as other interested individuals and organizations.