U.S., Russia finalize amendment to uranium import agreement

The U.S. Department of Commerce and Rosatom, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation, have signed a final amendment to the Agreement Suspending the Antidumping Investigation on Uranium from the Russian Federation. The amendment extends the 1992 pact through 2040 and reduces U.S. reliance on uranium from Russia during that time period, the DOC announced October 6.

Previously, the agreement was set to expire on December 31 of this year. According to the DOC, the document’s expiration “would have resulted in unchecked imports of Russian uranium, potentially decimating the front-end of the nuclear fuel cycle in the United States.”

The final amendment is unchanged from the draft version, released for public comment on September 11. (For more specifics on the amendment, see our story on the draft here.)

In an Era of "Firsts," an "Almost"

Powder Metallurgy Facility, Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Corporation, Bayside, New York.  From Will Davis' collection.

Powder Metallurgy Facility, Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Corporation, Bayside, N.Y.     From Will Davis' collection.

The era of the "first nuclear build" in the United States (from the Manhattan Project of the Second World War at the earliest, through the final commercial plant orders in 1978) was by nature one of nearly continuous "firsts" in its opening decades, as nuclear energy moved from being a thought to a possibility to a reality and took on many forms and nuances.

PGSFR: An Advanced Fuel Cycle and Power Solution for Korea

by Will Davis; information for this report obtained both from the 2016 ANS Annual Meeting session on Prototype Gen-IV Reactors and from representatives of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), its subsidiary Sodium-cooled Fast Reactor Development Agency (SFRA), KEPCO Engineering & Construction,+ and Argonne National Laboratory.

Consolidated Storage of Commercial Used Fuel

Used nuclear fuel storage; photo courtesy Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a division of the US Department of Energy

An interesting session at the ANS 2016 Annual Meeting, sponsored by the Fuel Cycle & Waste Management Division, saw the presentation of a number of interesting papers relative to the ever-increasing problem of used nuclear fuel at the various commercial nuclear plant sites in the United States.  Not only does the used fuel (which is a far better term than "spent fuel," these days, since it can conceivably be reused) continue to accumulate at the nuclear plants, but there is also a considerable amount of used fuel being stored at various sites where the nuclear plants have actually been shut down, decommissioned and completely removed for years.  Considering this, and the need to inventory, characterize and eventually move this material, a growing amount of interest is being shown in this field.

Surface storage of used nuclear fuel - safe, cost-effective, and flexible

In August 2014, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved NUREG-2157, Generic Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel. That action was the end result of several years worth of detailed analysis of the known and uncertain impacts of storing used nuclear fuel on the earth's surface in licensed and monitored facilities.

Nuclear Matinee: Powering America – Managing Nuclear Waste

The nuclear energy industry is the only large-scale energy producer responsible for managing and storing (and paying for) all the wastes generated by the process [in contrast to, for example... dumping wastes into the atmosphere].

Nuclear Cafe Matinee: Nuclear Recycling in 4 Minutes

The 800 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity produced by the 104 nuclear reactors in the United States each year -- all while emitting no greenhouse gases -- is by far America's biggest source of green energy.  And this abundant energy source can become even greener by recycling used nuclear fuel.

The future of nuclear at #MOXChat

On September 11, the National Nuclear Security Administration (U.S. Department of Energy) hosted a public meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn., concerning its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the disposition of surplus weapons-grade plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for use in power reactors. You may have seen the ANS Call to Action for the hearing and perhaps read the ANS position statement or background information.

ANS's Mark Peters testifies to Congress on recycling used nuclear fuel

On  Wednesday, June 6, Dr. Mark T. Peters appeared on behalf  of the American Nuclear Society before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.  Peters is the Deputy Laboratory Director for Programs at Argonne National Laboratory and testified at the invitation of the subcommittee.

Congressional debate over terms of future 123 agreements

In 2009, the United States and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a "123" agreement, which allowed the transfer of US nuclear technology (e.g., reactors, etc.) to the UAE. As a condition of the agreement, the UAE gave up all rights to enrich uranium or reprocess spent nuclear fuel, now and at any point in the future. Thus, the UAE agreed to give up significant rights that are granted to it as a signee of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Blue Ribbon Commission’s final report

Soon after declaring that it would end the Yucca Mountain repository project, the Obama administration created the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future to reevaluate the nation's nuclear waste program and policies. The commission was asked to recommend improvements to the waste program and the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), and to make general recommendations on the path forward. The commission was specifically instructed to not address the Yucca Mountain project, or any specific project or site. The commission's final report was released this month.

Nuclear News and the new year

GE-Hitachi proposes to burn U.K. plutonium stockpile