Argonne assists advanced reactor development with award-winning safety software

December 1, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsKristen Mally Dean
Partnerships between the nuclear industry and national laboratories are making overall codes more robust and capable. (Photo: Argonne)

The development of modern nuclear reactor technologies relies heavily on complex software codes and computer simulations to support the design, construction, and testing of physical hardware systems. These tools allow for rigorous testing of theory and thorough verification of design under various use or transient power scenarios.

NRC to hold hybrid meeting on Crystal River-3 license termination

November 29, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it will hold a hybrid public meeting on December 7 to discuss the license termination process and to accept comments on the remaining cleanup activities under the license termination plan for the Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Fla.

Laying the foundation for advanced reactors

November 15, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear NewsRichard A. Meserve

Richard A. Meserve

Climate change presents a grave threat, demanding increasing reliance on low-carbon energy over the coming decades. Nuclear power today contributes half of U.S. low-carbon generation, and achievement of climate goals requires the continued operation of existing plants. But there are competitors for low-carbon energy, and nuclear’s further role remains uncertain. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) conducted a study to explore the challenges that must be overcome for widespread new nuclear deployment.1 This article provides my summary of the study, highlighting and abbreviating some of its principal recommendations. Note that the italicized portions of the article are shortened versions of the recommendations in the report.

Deep geologic repository progress

November 10, 2023, 3:07PMNuclear NewsEmily Stein

Outside my office, there is a display case filled with rock samples from all over the world. It contains a disk of translucent, orange salt from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.; a core of white-and-bronze gneiss from the site of the future deep geologic repository in Eurajoki, Finland; several angular chunks of fine-grained, gray claystone from the underground research laboratory at Bure, France; and a piece of coarse-grained granite from the underground research tunnel in Daejeon, South Korea.

NRC releases decommissioned Zion site for unrestricted use

November 9, 2023, 9:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The Zion nuclear plant site as it appeared earlier this year. (Photo: Tim Gregoire)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released for “unrestricted use” most of the land on and around where the Zion nuclear power plant once operated in northeastern Illinois. This means that any residual radiation is below the NRC’s limits and there will be no further regulatory controls by the agency for that portion of the property.

Safford named NRC’s commission secretary

November 2, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that Carrie M. Safford will be the new secretary of the commission, effective November 5. She is the fifth person in the 48-year history of the NRC to hold the position.

Safford has been serving as deputy director in the Division of Fuel Management, which has regulatory responsibility for nuclear fuel cycle activities in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.

“Carrie has served in a variety of capacities and brings extensive legal and regulatory experience,” said NRC chair Christopher T. Hanson. “Her proven executive leadership and vast knowledge of the agency’s policies and procedures well positions her to keep the Commission’s business functioning smoothly.”

NRC approves emergency planning exemptions for defueled Indian Point

October 30, 2023, 9:52AMRadwaste Solutions
Indian Point nuclear power plant. (Photo: Daniel Case)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hasgranted a request by Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI) to revise the emergency preparedness plan for the Indian Point Energy Center. Reflecting the reduced risk of a radiological emergency at a decommissioning power reactor site, the exemption removes the requirement that HDI maintain a 10-mile emergency planning zone around the plant.

Sharing D&D Knowledge in a Competitive Market

October 27, 2023, 3:13PMRadwaste SolutionsTim Gregoire
Vermont Yankee’s segmented reactor vessel head is lowered into a custom-built package for transportation and disposal. (Photo: Orano)

Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is overseeing 17 nuclear power plants that are undergoing active decommissioning. For 10 of those plants, the NRC licenses have been transferred, either through sale or temporary transfer, from the plant owner and operator to a third party, nonutility company for decommissioning. To be profitable, those companies are decommissioning the nuclear plants as expediently as they safely can, while still protecting workers and the environment, using proprietary techniques and processes.

U.S. requests review of circuit court’s ruling on Texas storage facility

October 27, 2023, 12:05PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice are asking the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review its decision to vacate Interim Storage Partners’ license to build and operate a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for commercial spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas.

HALEU enrichment begins at the American Centrifuge plant in southern Ohio

October 16, 2023, 2:36PMNuclear News
The 16-centrifuge HALEU demonstration cascade sits within a vast DOE-owned facility with room for more than 11,000 centrifuges. (Photo: Centrus)

American Centrifuge Operating (ACO), a subsidiary of Centrus Energy, has started enriching uranium hexafluoride gas to high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) levels at the Department of Energy’s enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio, the DOE announced October 11. The HALEU will be used to help fuel the initial cores of two demonstration reactors awarded under DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and will also support fuel qualification and the testing of other new advanced reactor designs.

Research and test reactor oversight probed by NRC IG after NIST fuel failure

October 11, 2023, 9:45AMNuclear News
A view of the NCNR guide hall, featuring the 30-meter Small Angle Neutron Scattering instrument. (Photo: NIST)

Following the February 2021 radiation release at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) resulting from a fuel failure in the 20-MWt NIST Center for Neutron Research (NCNR) research reactor, NIST investigated the root cause of the incident and developed corrective actions. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s probe of the incident found apparent violations and resulted in a confirmatory order issued in August 2022.

What Texas v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission tells us

October 9, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Here we go again: Another “workaround” on U.S. nuclear waste policy just got shot down in a federal courtroom. On August 25, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission lacked the authority to grant a license to Interim Storage Partners LLC (read: Waste Control Specialists) to accept and store up to 5,000 tons of used nuclear fuel at its proposed facility in Andrews County, Texas. Writing for the court, U.S. circuit judge James Ho found that “the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) creates a comprehensive statutory scheme for addressing spent nuclear fuel accumulation. The scheme prioritizes construction of the permanent repository and limits temporary storage to private, at-the-reactor storage or at federal sites. It plainly contemplates that, until there’s a permanent repository, spent nuclear fuel is to be stored onsite at-the-reactor or in a federal facility.”

This decision is not necessarily a knockout blow. The court’s reading of the law is, well, novel. Other appeals courts have recognized the NRC’s authority to license away-from-reactor storage, and the Supreme Court is likely to weigh in. But given the current high court’s proclivities on “textualism” and the Chevron doctrine, we shouldn’t consider it a slam dunk.

NRC to discuss proposed fusion regulations

October 6, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on October 4 made available preliminary proposed rule language for the licensing and regulation fusion energy systems. The proposed rulemaking, which would amend parts 20, 30, and 51 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, would provide a limited-scope, technology-inclusive regulatory framework for a broad array of fusion systems currently under development.

With reactor gone, Halden project lives on in human factors research

October 5, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsPaul Menser

When Norway’s Halden research reactor shut down in 2018, nuclear researchers around the world were forced to scramble. For 60 years, the Halden Reactor Project offered a 25-MWt boiling water reactor for research where scientists could expand their understanding of nuclear fuel reliability, reactor internals, plant procedures and monitoring, and human factors.

NRC moves ahead on HALEU enrichment, rulemaking, and guidance

September 28, 2023, 1:59PMNuclear News
Upper-level view of Centrus’s HALEU cascade. (Photo: Centrus Energy)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is requesting comments on the regulatory basis for a proposed rule for light water reactor fuel designs featuring high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), including accident tolerant fuel (ATF) designs, and on draft guidance for the environmental evaluation of ATFs containing uranium enriched up to 8 percent U-235. Some of the HALEU feedstock for those LWR fuels and for advanced reactor fuels could be produced within the first Category II fuel facility licensed by the NRC—Centrus Energy’s American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. On September 21, the NRC approved the start of enrichment operations in the plant’s modest 16-machine HALEU demonstration cascade.

ANS's Piercy interviews NRC chair Christopher Hanson

September 22, 2023, 7:37AMANS News

American Nuclear Society Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy visited One White Flint North, where he sat down with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Christopher Hanson for a one-on-one interview on September 18, 2023. The interview is available exclusively to ANS members to watch this week before it is released to the public. ANS members won’t want to miss the hour-long discussion, where Hanson opens up about important topics facing the NRC and the nuclear community and what he sees as the big successes during his first term as chair.

Bringing nuclear history forward

September 21, 2023, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJeremy Hampshire

This year’s American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting was filled with great content, some of which was covered in the August issue of Nuclear News (beginning on p. 22). One of the meeting’s executive sessions, “Bringing Nuclear History Forward,” focused on advanced reactor (AR) history and was well attended. The United States—along with many countries around the world—is turning to nuclear to combat climate change. Part of this is funding new and innovative companies to create first-of-a-kind nuclear reactors to provide abundant and clean power. Looking at the current designs of interest to the community brings up interesting comparisons to the test and experimental reactors of the past. Test reactors like the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II), the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF), Peach Bottom, Fort St. Vrain, Germany’s AVR, and others now are more important than ever in providing insight, data, and operational lessons learned to develop the next generation of reactors.