The Kemeny Commission Report from the pages of Nuclear News

May 26, 2022, 3:15PMNuclear News

This week’s Throwback Thursday post is again about Three Mile Island—this time looking at the coverage from the pages of the December 1979 issue Nuclear News about the Kemeny Commission. The twelve-person commission, announced by President Carter immediately after the accident in April 1979, was headed by John Kemeny—then president of Dartmouth College—with orders to investigate the causes and any consequences of the accident.

Cost drivers of nuclear steam cycle construction

May 20, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsDaniel Moneghan

Interest in reducing carbon emissions around the world continues to climb. As a complement to the increasing deployment of variably generating renewables, advanced nuclear is commonly shown in net-zero grid modeling for 2050 because it represents firm electricity production that can flex in output with load demands.1 However, these projections are challenged by the high levelized cost of electricity associated with legacy nuclear construction, which is often more than double that of modern combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plants.

The Atlantic: Build what we’ve already invented

May 16, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

“What if I told you that scientists had figured out a way to produce affordable electricity that was 99 percent safer and cleaner than coal or oil, and that this breakthrough produced even fewer emissions per gigawatt-hour than solar or wind?” That’s the question that Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic, asks in his article, "The Forgotten Stage of Human Progress," before revealing, “The breakthrough I’m talking about is 70 years old: It’s nuclear power.”

U.S. nuclear capacity factors: A smaller fleet invested in the future

May 13, 2022, 2:59PMNuclear NewsSusan Gallier

The United States has just 93 operating power reactors at this writing. The fleet last numbered 93 in 1985, when nuclear generation topped out at 383.69 TWh, less than half of the 778.2 TWh produced in 2021.

While the 93 reactors operating today have more capacity, on average, than in 1985, most of that increased productivity is down to operational improvements that pushed the fleet’s average capacity factor from just 57.5 percent in the three-year period 1984–1986 to near 90 percent by the early 2000s.

Insights from the Three Mile Island accident—Part 2: Improvements

May 6, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear NewsWilliam E. Burchill

Part one of this article, published in the May 2019 issue of Nuclear News[1] and last Friday on Nuclear Newswire, presented insights from the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island-­2 and addressed several issues raised by a previous Nuclear News piece on the accident[2]. Part two discusses safety improvements that have been made by both the industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the past 40 years.

Insights from the Three Mile Island accident—Part 1: The accident

April 29, 2022, 3:59PMNuclear NewsWilliam E. Burchill

The accident at Unit 2 of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant on March 28, 1979, was an extremely complex event. It was produced by numerous preexisting plant conditions, many systemic issues in the industry and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, unanticipated operator actions, previously unrecognized thermal-­hydraulic phenomena in the reactor coolant system (RCS), and the unprecedented challenge of managing a severely degraded core.

Online fundraising event for Ukraine to be held April 27–28

April 26, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

An open online event titled “Challenges of Ukraine’s nuclear energy in wartime” will be held on April 27 and 28. The event is sponsored by the International Conference on Nuclear Decommissioning and Environmental Recovery (INUDECO). Organizers include the Slavutych (Ukraine) City Council, the Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Safety of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Nuclear Society.

Register now. There is no fee for registration. However, funds raised from participants will be donated for humanitarian purposes. Fundraising is open now.

Europe is showing renewed interest in nuclear energy “despite danger,” says the Washington Post

April 26, 2022, 7:06AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The war in Ukraine has intensified interest across Europe in building new nuclear energy plants or extending the lives of old ones to liberate the continent from its heavy reliance on Russian oil and natural gas,” Washington Post reporters Steven Mufson and Claire Parker write in their recent article, before describing what they view as the potential dangers of nuclear energy. They also quote the American Nuclear Society in regard to the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine.

The Federalist faults Apple’s Earth Day “demonization” of nuclear power

April 20, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Green pursuit of a low-carbon future absent the introduction of more nuclear power on existing grids is nothing but a fantasy, writes Tristan Justice, a correspondent for the online magazine The Federalist. In an article published on April 15, Justice calls out Apple Inc. for its 2022 Earth Day initiative to donate one dollar for every Apple Pay purchase to the antinuclear World Wildlife Fund, and he claims that Apple is "demonizing" nuclear power while promoting an antinuclear agenda.

Oregon State and NuScale: From university to start-up

April 15, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear NewsBrian Woods
Rendition of a VOYGR plant layout. (Image: NuScale)

Universities are places where professionals, experts, and students come together to teach and learn, to conduct and disseminate research, and to dream and explore. Universities have a long history of technological innovation and development. It should therefore come as no surprise that institutes of higher education have been an integral part of the recent explosion of innovation within the advanced nuclear reactor community. Universities have not only powered workforce and technology development, but in a number of cases, they have served as the actual birthplaces of today’s advanced reactor designs.

The public face of nuclear

April 15, 2022, 9:30AMANS NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

This month’s issue of Nuclear News highlights the contributions of university-based programs in advancing nuclear science and technology and preparing the next-generation nuclear workforce.

In addition to the scholarly work they do, our university programs increasingly serve as an important public-facing component of the U.S. nuclear enterprise.

When you think about it, a lot of what goes on with nuclear happens within a security perimeter—“behind the fence,” if you will. Obviously, this is by necessity, as the technology involved is inherently sensitive. However, because the “magic” of nuclear remains out of view, something will always get lost in translation to the public. Yes, tours of commercial nuclear plants are still available to the interested and enterprising, but there is nothing quite like staring down into the core of a university TRIGA reactor and seeing the Cherenkov glow to stoke a person’s imagination.

Looking back at coverage of TMI

March 31, 2022, 3:30PMANS Nuclear Cafe

This week for the #ThrowbackThursday post, we are again turning to the April 1984 issue of Nuclear News, which was highlighted in February when we looked at the start of the federal program to convert research reactors from the use of high-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium. This week, however, we are reviewing the coverage presented in that issue about the five-year anniversary of the Three Mile Island-2 accident.

Elon Musk: Shutting down nuclear plants is “total madness”

March 31, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


In a wide-ranging interview published by Business Insider on March 26, Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla and SpaceX, repeatedly referred to efforts to shut down nuclear power plants as “crazy” and “madness.” Musk spoke with Mathias Döpfner, chief executive officer of Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer. Musk also discussed his views on the war in Ukraine, climate change, space travel, self-driving cars, humanoid robots, artificial intelligence, religion, and philanthropy.

Germany's mistakes: In discussing the Ukraine conflict and Western Europe’s dependence on Russian energy supplies, Döpfner referred to “strategic mistakes that Europe, particularly Germany, has made [such as] the dropout of nuclear energy in 2011.”

Musk responded, “It is very important that Germany will not shut down its nuclear power stations. I think this is extremely crazy.”

Michigan’s nuclear professionals urge Gov. Whitmer to halt premature closure of Palisades nuclear power plant

March 22, 2022, 11:56AMPress Releases

The combined Michigan and Ohio Section of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) urged Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and state lawmakers in a letter to reconsider the premature closure of the carbon-free Palisades nuclear power plant in May.

Europe’s confused climate strategy

March 18, 2022, 3:55PMNuclear NewsMatthew L. Wald

Europeans are taking resolute steps to reduce their output of climate-changing gases, but some countries are moving in the wrong direction.

Many countries are adding solar and wind, which are low-carbon energy sources. Some have moved to biomass, the value of which as a climate cure is not clear. A few are adding reactors, while others are defining nuclear as dirty energy and natural gas as “clean” and are changing their generation mix accordingly.

Off-site power restored at Chernobyl — before power lines damaged again

March 14, 2022, 8:37AMPress Releases
Energoatom, photo of Rovno (Rivne) NPP. Rivne NPP | Energoatom

External power supplies were restored to the decommissioning Chernobyl facility following repairs of damaged power lines — before being reportedly damaged again, according to Ukraine's transmission system operator Ukrenergo.

NICE Future: Fostering the international adoption of nuclear energy

March 11, 2022, 3:20PMNuclear NewsCory Hatch

Imagine life without refrigeration, television, clean cooking facilities, clean water, clothes washers, and electric lights. For the roughly 1 billion people around the world without access to electricity, energy poverty is a reality that drastically reduces their quality of life and economic opportunities.

At the same time, fossil fuels currently provide more than 60 percent of electricity and about 80 percent of energy worldwide, even as global carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

Russian invasion taking its toll on Ukrainian nuclear workers

March 8, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The events of the past 12 days are unprecedented and nerve-wracking for the nuclear community. Never before has a nuclear power plant been in a full-scale war zone until the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on February 24. The world watched nervously as Russian troops and heavy equipment rolled through the Chernobyl site and then a week later attacked the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Russian forces are now less than 50 kilometers from the South Ukraine nuclear power plant.

Update on Ukraine

March 4, 2022, 9:28AMNuclear News
Energoatom’s Zaporizhzhia plant, in southeastern Ukraine. (Photo: Energoatom)

Latest on Zaporizhzhia: As of this morning, Russian military forces have taken control of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. The Russian military began shelling the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine, resulting in a fire at the site on Thursday.