A better search: Improving public access to the NRC’s ADAMS document database

May 22, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission hosted a public meeting yesterday to gather comments on its web-based ADAMS (WBA) system—a public document search tool introduced in 2010. It’s a tool that novice users find daunting and frequent users find frustrating, whether they’re searching for a single document or for thousands of documents on a single topic.

Securing the advanced reactor fleet

May 17, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear NewsBen Cipiti, Katya Le Blanc, and Cory Hatch

Physical protection accounts for a significant portion of a nuclear power plant’s operational costs. As the U.S. moves toward smaller and safer advanced reactors, similar protection strategies could prove cost prohibitive. For tomorrow’s small modular reactors and microreactors, security costs must remain appropriate to the size of the reactor for economical operation.

Bill would eliminate public hearing requirement in nuclear licensing

May 14, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bill being considered in the U.S. Senate seeks to remove the requirement for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold a public hearing for every nuclear reactor application.

Current law requires public hearings to be held by the NRC toward the end the reactor license application process, in addition to the statutorily required environmental and safety reviews that provide public engagement opportunities for stakeholders and citizens.

Strong performances across the board

May 8, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

Another year, another stellar performance by America’s nuclear plants. We’ve come to expect high capacity factors, and it’s a credit to the men and women of the profession. They’ve made routine something that was unimaginable not so long ago.

The decadal challenge for the nuclear enterprise now is to maintain this high level of operational excellence for the current fleet, while at the same time ushering in a new generation of technologies at scale. It will be a big job—but one that seems more and more likely with each passing day.

It is against this hopeful backdrop that I take the opportunity to update you on our latest steps toward making the American Nuclear Society a class-leading professional society.

Retrieval of nuclear waste canisters from a borehole

May 3, 2024, 9:31AMRadwaste SolutionsRod Baltzer

Borehole disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level waste (HLW) uses off-the-shelf directional drilling technology developed and commercialized by the oil and gas sectors. It is a technology that has been gaining traction in recent years in the nuclear industry. Disposal can be done in one or more boreholes (including an array) drilled into suitable sedimentary, igneous, or metamorphic host rocks. Waste is encapsulated in specialized corrosion-resistant canisters, which are placed end to end in disposal sections of relatively small-diameter boreholes that have been cased and fluid-filled. After emplacement, the vertical access hole is plugged and backfilled as an engineered barrier.

Developing a new regulatory framework for advanced reactors: Update on Part 53

May 3, 2024, 7:01AMNuclear News


The American Nuclear Society’s Risk-informed, Performance-based Principles and Policy Committee (RP3C) on March 29 held another presentation in its monthly Community of Practice (CoP) series. The presenter, Patrick White with the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA), talked about the current status of efforts to develop a new regulatory framework for advanced reactors—known as 10 CFR Part 53 or simply Part 53. White serves as the research director of the NIA, where he leads their research as well as analysis-based stakeholder and policymaker engagement and education. White’s March 29 presentation is publicly available on YouTube and at ANS’s publication platform Nuclear Science and Technology Open Research (NSTOR).

RP3C chair N. Prasad Kadambi opened the CoP with brief introductory remarks about the RP3C before he welcomed White as the session’s presenter.

White covered three main topics: the history of the existing regulatory frameworks for new reactors, progress to date on the development of the Part 53 rule for advanced reactors, and the current status and next steps for the Part 53 rulemaking process.

NRC approves transfer of Vallecitos to North Star for D&D

May 2, 2024, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Vallecitos Nuclear Center site in northern California. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

By an order dated April 25, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of ownership of Vallecitos Nuclear Center from GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to NorthStar Group Services for nuclear decontamination, decommissioning, and environmental site restoration.

Federal court finds in favor of Diablo Canyon license review

April 30, 2024, 3:24PMNuclear News
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. (Photo: PG&E)

A review from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals this week denied a challenge to the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant’s license renewal application extension granted by the federal government.

In late 2023, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission agreed to formally docket the California plant’s request to extend plant operations beyond the current license expiration dates of 2024 and 2025 for the two respective units.

NRC updating GEIS rule for new nuclear technology

April 23, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is issuing a proposed generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) for use in reviewing applications for new nuclear reactors.

In an April 17 memo, NRC secretary Carrie Safford wrote that the commission approved NRC staff’s recommendation to publish in the Federal Register a proposed rule amending 10 CFR Part 51, “Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions.”

NRC to discuss decommissioning of historic NS Savannah

April 16, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News
The NS Savannah. (Photo: NS Savannah Association)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting on May 8 to discuss the license termination process for the retired nuclear-powered merchant ship, the NS Savannah. During the meeting, NRC staff will discuss the license termination process and receive public comments on the remaining cleanup activities described in the license termination plan for the historic ship, which may see a second life as a floating museum.

GAO report looks at climate change and nuclear power

April 9, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

A new study by the Government Accountability Office researched potential impacts of climate change–related hazards on the U.S. nuclear fleet and found clear risks. In the report, which was released to the public last week, the GAO recommends that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission address these possible threats during the licensing process.

New Jersey plants seek subsequent license renewals

April 4, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power plants. (Photo: PSE&G)

PSEG Nuclear LLC announced this week it will pursue subsequent license extensions to keep the three reactors at its Hope Creek and Salem plants operating for an additional 20 years. Both plants had been granted initial life extensions years ago by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Salem-1 and -2 on June 30, 2011, and Hope Creek on July 20, 2011.

Bringing Part 53 across the finish line

April 4, 2024, 9:26AMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Regulatory Information Conference—“the RIC” as it’s commonly known—is an annual rite of spring for many nuclear energy professionals. Each year, 2,000 industry people crowd into the Montgomery County Conference Center to hear the commissioners give their annual plenary speeches, attend technical sessions on regulatory topics, and kibitz with friends in the expansive foyer during breaks.

And as always, there are two distinct conversations at the RIC: the one that emanates from the stage, and the other that unfurls organically in the hallways. The official conversation is in the public record for anyone to read or watch. The hallway topic du jour this year was Part 53 of Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, of course—specifically, the Staff Requirements Memo (SRM) handed down by the commission the week before that instructed staff to produce a new proposed rule for public comment and set a six-month countdown clock to finish it.

Remembering Clyde Jupiter

April 4, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News


Clyde Peter Jupiter passed away peacefully March 31, 2024, at the age of 95. Born October 31, 1928, in New Orleans, La., Jupiter attended public and parochial schools in New Orleans, graduating from Xavier University in 1948. He was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and was noted as one of the first African Americans to attend Notre Dame University in 1949.

Following graduation, Jupiter pursued a career in the field of physics, where he was renowned for his contributions to nuclear radiation detection and the advancing of nuclear energy. His career in the nuclear field included working for such agencies as the Atomic Energy Commission, Lawrence Laboratories, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

He also served in the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956 at the Chemical Corps Laboratory, in Fort Detrick, Md.