NRC proposes fine for Urenco violations

April 10, 2023, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent a notice dated March 30 to Urenco USA regarding a proposed $70,000 civil penalty for two violations related to the improper implementation of safety controls at the company’s commercial enrichment facility in Eunice, N.M., which is operated by Louisiana Energy Services. The NRC publicly announced the proposed fine on April 3.

Donalds, Barnard call for streamlining NRC’s regulatory process

March 27, 2023, 2:59PMNuclear News



“To be frank, any emissions-related climate goals are moonshots without nuclear energy, and next-generation nuclear technology is something that the United States can and SHOULD lead on.” So writes U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) and Christopher Barnard, vice president of external affairs for the American Conservation Coalition, in an essay published by RealClear Energy.

Good news: Donalds, one of the strongest advocates for nuclear energy in the U.S. House, and Barnard, publisher and coauthor of Green Market Revolution, begin their essay by noting some recent positive developments for nuclear power. They characterize the initial criticality of Vogtle-3, the first new nuclear reactor built in the United States in about 30 years, as “a monumental achievement for the American nuclear industry.” They praise the Biden administration’s allocation of funds to keep established nuclear plants operational.

PG&E response to Diablo Canyon opponents demonstrates strong legal precedent

March 13, 2023, 12:03PMNuclear News

Proponents of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant received the heartening news on March 2 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had granted a “timely renewal” exemption to allow the plant to continue operating while its new license renewal application was under review. The exemption came after the NRC denied in January plant owner Pacific Gas & Electric’s request for the agency to resume review of its original license renewal application.

New Generic Repository Environmental Standards: Draft Recommendations from ANS

February 17, 2023, 3:03PMRadwaste SolutionsPeter Swift, Michael Apted, Lake Barrett, John Kessler, and Steven Nesbit
An electric continuous miner machine cuts out a waste-emplacement panel at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant salt repository in New Mexico. (Photo: DOE)

Used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes are by-products of nuclear energy production and other applications of nuclear technology, and the consensus approach to disposing of those wastes safely is to encapsulate them and emplace them in stable geologic formations (geologic repositories) where they will be isolated from people and the environment for very long periods of time. The federal government has established environmental standards for waste isolation that any proposed geologic repository must meet.

In July 2021, the American Nuclear Society established a special committee to consider possibilities for revised generic environmental standards for disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States. The committee developed a number of recommendations, which are contained in a draft report that was to be issued in February for review and comment by stakeholders. The draft report can be found on the ANS website, at

The committee’s draft recommendations are based on two underlying assumptions. First, that the relevant legislative framework for regulation defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) remains unchanged. Specifically, it is assumed that the Environmental Protection Agency will be charged with promulgating environmental standards for disposal and that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be charged with reviewing applications for disposal facilities using licensing requirements and criteria consistent with the EPA standards. Second, that existing generic disposal standards will be updated or replaced.

Registration is open for NRC’s RIC

February 1, 2023, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened registration for its 35th annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC 2023) The conference, themed “Navigating the Nuclear Future,” will be held March 14–16 in North Bethesda, Md., and will be the first in-person RIC since 2019, although the event will also be accessible virtually.

Register now. Registration, which is required to attend, can be completed by filling out the conference registration online form. The conference is free to the public.

Breakthrough Institute tells NRC to “go back to the drawing board” with Part 53 rule

December 19, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Breakthrough Institute’s analysis of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s draft proposal to modernize licensing regulations for advanced reactors has concluded that the latest proposed 10 CFR Part 53 rule language ”largely replicates the failed licensing rules that have hobbled the legacy nuclear industry for decades.”

A summary of the analysis, written by Ted Nordhaus, the Breakthrough Institute’s founder and executive director, and Adam Stein, the institute’s director for nuclear energy innovation, observes that the “draft framework is twice as long as either of the legacy, prescriptive licensing frameworks, Part 50 and 52, that it is intended to supplant. That is because the staff largely cut and pasted the old rules into the new framework, then added further burdensome regulations, including qualitative health objectives that cannot be complied with and expanded requirements for the notorious ‘as low as reasonably achievable’ radiation standard, a further invitation to endlessly ratchet regulatory requirements.”

NRC comments on NuScale’s draft application for SMR design

December 6, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In a letter to NuScale Power, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission responded to the company’s draft standard design approval application (SDAA) for its small modular reactor design by identifying “several challenging and/or significant issues that could be focus areas for the SDAA acceptance and/or safety review.” The letter described the findings of the NRC’s preapplication readiness assessment and recommended NuScale’s “continued engagement” on a number of topics of concern before finalizing the SDAA.

NRC investigates improper fuel use at University of Texas research reactor

November 23, 2022, 12:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor. (Photo: University of Texas)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has conducted a special inspection at the University of Texas’s TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor in Austin to evaluate the use of improper fuel. The inspection was ordered following a notification from the University of Texas—Austin to the NRC that the research reactor had been operating for several months with two fuel elements that were not licensed for the reactor.

NEXT Lab’s molten salt research reactor inches closer to NRC approval

November 22, 2022, 9:31AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The molten salt test loop at ACU’s NEXT Lab. (Photo: Jeremy Enlow/SteelShutter)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will review a construction permit submitted by the Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing (NEXT) Laboratory at Abilene Christian University for the lab’s planned molten salt research reactor (MSRR). The NRC informed Rusty Towell, director of the NEXT Lab and professor in ACU’s Department of Engineering and Physics, about its acceptance of the construction permit review in a November 18 letter. The NEXT Lab had submitted the construction permit application on August 15; it was the first-ever university application for an advanced research reactor. On October 14, they provided the NRC with additional information about instrumentation and controls. (Nuclear News featured an article about the NEXT Lab and the MSRR in the November issue.)

West Virginia hospital to correct nuclear medicine violations

November 16, 2022, 3:03PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Cabell Huntington Hospital system, based in Huntington, W.V., has begun implementing corrective actions associated with nuclear medicine activities, in line with a settlement agreement reached with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agreement stems from NRC inspections at the hospital’s facilities that uncovered 14 violations, described in a June 2022 NRC inspection report. As a result of the hospital taking corrective action, the NRC will not impose civil penalties.

Morris, Lorson named to new leadership positions with NRC

November 7, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News



The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has appointed two longtime employees to key leadership positions. Scott A. Morris was named as the new deputy executive director for reactor and preparedness programs, and Raymond K. Lorson was named as the new Region I administrator. Morris and Lorson will assume their new roles upon the end-of-year retirements of the current deputy executive director, Darrell J. Roberts, and administrator, David C. Law.

NRC executive director for operations Daniel H. Dorman announced the two appointments on October 31, calling Morris and Lorson “extremely talented individuals committed to NRC’s complex and important mission.”

The Hill article: The nuclear industry is stifled

October 6, 2022, 7:04AMANS Nuclear Cafe


In an opinion piece published by The Hill, Tim Cavanaugh blasts the federal government for “quick-fix” and “half-hearted” efforts to retain existing nuclear power plants.

Cavanaugh, senior editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, adds that the U.S. nuclear energy industry is stifled by outmoded policies and suggests a number of policy changes to allow it to flourish and to “end a regulatory model that has starved the nuclear industry nearly to extinction.”

Renewable failures: Cavanaugh’s first suggestion is to acknowledge the failure of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, which “produce too little energy and are too unreliable to make a dent in our heat and electricity needs, even though taxpayers have spent billions of dollars on green pork.”

NRC chairman visits ANS student section at University of Puerto Rico

September 21, 2022, 12:00PMANS News
Highlights from Chairman Hanson’s visit with the ANS student section at UPRM. (Photos: NRC/Twitter)

The American Nuclear Society student section at the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez (UPRM) recently welcomed Christopher T. Hanson, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. While at UPRM, Hanson met with graduate students conducting nuclear-related research, as well as with deans, professors, and other university officials. He also delivered a speech, “Preparing to Regulate the Nuclear Technology of the Future.”

New Mexico governor vows that state will not accept spent fuel

July 18, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News

In response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recommendation to issue a license to Holtec International for the construction of an interim nuclear waste storage site in southeastern New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released a statement condemning the regulatory agency as “effectively choosing profit over public interest.”

Lake Barrett’s reality-grounded perspective on Netflix’s drama Meltdown: Three Mile Island

June 10, 2022, 7:00AMANS News

In an ANS-sponsored online event held on June 8, independent energy consultant Lake Barrett shared his perspective on the Netflix docudrama series Meltdown: Three Mile Island. Barrett, who was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s on-site director and senior federal official for the cleanup of the TMI Unit 2 accident in the early 1980s, countered inaccuracies in the series during an interview with ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy.

NRC awards $9 million in grants for nuclear science and engineering education

May 5, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has awarded 25 grants totaling more than $9 million to 20 academic institutions in 20 states. Under the NRC’s University Nuclear Leadership Program, the grants are designed to support education in the nuclear science and engineering fields. The institutions rewarded include four-year universities and colleges, two-year trade schools and community colleges.

Kairos Power forms advisory consortium with four nuclear utility partners

April 20, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

Kairos Power announced today that it has assembled an advanced nuclear development advisory consortium with four North American nuclear operators—Bruce Power, Constellation, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority—dubbed Kairos Power Operations, Manufacturing and Development Alliance (Kairos Power-OMADA).

NRC approves Kewaunee license transfer to EnergySolutions for decommissioning

April 5, 2022, 6:58AMRadwaste Solutions
The Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Carlton, Wis.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the operating license of the shutdown Kewaunee nuclear power plant from Dominion Energy to EnergySolutions. The transfer, which includes the general license for the Wisconsin site’s spent fuel storage facility, is contingent upon approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

EnergySolutions entered into an agreement with Dominion in May 2021 to acquire the Kewaunee site for decommissioning.

News report on past Diablo Canyon shutdown prompts clarification by nuclear advocates

April 4, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, located near Avila Beach, Calif.

A recent article on a radio station website about an auxiliary feedwater (AFW) pump problem at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant led to information exchanges between a reporter, the American Nuclear Society, and nuclear advocates. The incident also involved a tweet by a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Representative Mike Levin: The spent fuel caucus and SONGS

November 19, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear NewsTim Gregoire


On July 21, Rep. Mike Levin (D., Calif.), whose district includes the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), announced with Rep. Rodney Davis (R., Ill.) the formation of the bipartisan House Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Caucus. The caucus, according to its members, seeks to address the challenges associated with stranded U.S. commercial spent fuel and to serve as a forum for those who want to make progress on the issue, regardless of whether they have a preferred solution.

Rep. Levin talked with Nuclear News staff writer Tim Gregoire about his goals for the caucus and finding an answer to the country’s spent nuclear fuel dilemma.