Safety concerns grow regarding Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

August 5, 2022, 6:50AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Concerns regarding the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in war-torn Ukraine have been heightened in recent weeks, with reports of Russian forces using the gigantic facility as a cover from which to launch artillery attacks on Ukrainian forces. On Tuesday, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, appealed to both Ukraine and Russia to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the plant to examine its condition, make any necessary repairs, and ensure that its nuclear material is being appropriately safeguarded. Grossi said that the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear plant, in which, according to various reports, either two or three of six reactors are currently operating, is “completely out of control” and that the plant’s equipment supply chain has been interrupted.

NRC and GAO seem to clash on urgency of “dirty bomb” danger

July 26, 2022, 12:06PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Source: GAO | GAO-22-103441

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to “add security features to its licenses to make it harder for people to use a fraudulent license to purchase radioactive material,” which could then be used to make a “dirty bomb,” according to a Government Accountability Office report exclusively obtained by NBC News. The recent report was publicly released on the GAO website.

A dirty bomb, also known as a radiological dispersal device, is a bomb made with conventional explosives to spread illicitly obtained radioactive materials, such as materials intended for generating nuclear power, conducting research, treating cancer, or sterilizing medical instruments. Such a weapon in the hands of a terrorist group or other “bad actor” could cause “hundreds of deaths from evacuations and billions of dollars of socioeconomic effects,” according Preventing a Dirty Bomb (GAO-22-103441).

Today! National Atomic Testing Museum hosts panel on women in science

June 30, 2022, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The National Atomic Testing Museum is hosting the “Women in Science Panel Discussion” today, June 30, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (PST). This free event can be attended in person at the museum in Las Vegas, Nev., or online via Zoom. Advance registration is required.

IAEA invites nuclear security students to apply for MSCFP internships

June 2, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Division of Nuclear Security is inviting female students who are enrolled in master’s programs in nuclear security to apply for internships in the IAEA Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme (MSCFP). The MSCFP, launched in February 2020, has the objective of increasing the number of women in the nuclear field.

Young Members Group opens the stage for the Nevada Nuclear Security Site

September 3, 2021, 9:29AMANS News

The 11th installment of the ANS Young Members Group's webinar series "Spotlight on National Labs" featured the Nevada National Security Site and went live on August 26. The event, moderated by YMG chair Matthew Jasica, featured 11 speakers from the NNSS describing the various programs under the agency. Kelsey Amundson, who co-organized the webinar, said, “The diversity of the work performed at the NNSS is quite extensive, and the webinar was a great way to show the nuclear community how much work is done at the [organization].”

A recording of the program is available online.

Senate panel seeks a more modest increase in NE funding than House counterparts

August 6, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved three of the 12 fiscal year 2022 funding measures, including an Energy and Water Development bill that provides the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) with an increase of 5.5 percent over last year’s allocation—half of the boost recommended for NE last month by House appropriators.

The Senate panel advanced the legislation by a vote of 25–5, with all five no votes from GOP members: Sens. Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), John Kennedy (R., La.), Mike Braun (R., Ind.), Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.), and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.).

Work begins on training center to thwart nuclear terrorism

July 19, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Rendering of the multipurpose building that will house the Nuclear Security Training and Demonstration Centre. (Photo: IAEA)

The International Atomic Energy Agency has broken ground for a new building designed to help countries combat nuclear terrorism in areas such as illegal material trafficking and physical protection of facilities.

MIT team adapts neutron resonance transmission analysis for portability

June 23, 2021, 7:07AMNuclear News
Left: An experimental setup showing a shielded detector. Right: A DT neutron source showing three disks of 6Li doped glass scintillator mounted on a photomultiplier tube. (Photos: MIT)

Neutron resonance transmission analysis (NRTA) was developed by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory to identify unknown materials inside a sealed object using a beam of neutrons from a laboratory-scale apparatus. Recognizing that the potential nuclear security applications of NRTA were limited by the size and location of the apparatus, Areg Danagoulian, an associate professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, began about five years ago to consider how NRTA could be made portable to examine materials on location.

Biden administration’s proposed FY 2022 budget supports nuclear

June 3, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News

The Biden administration’s fiscal year 2022 budget sent to Congress last week would, according to the Department of Energy, move the United States toward net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The FY 2022 budget request includes $1.85 billion for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

“President Biden’s budget request puts America in the driver's seat as we transition toward a 100 percent clean energy economy,” said secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm on May 28. “These investments will ensure the U.S. is the global leader in research, development, and deployment of critical energy technologies to combat the climate crisis, create good-paying union jobs, and strengthen our communities in all pockets of America.”

Thailand inks agreement with nuclear security organization

February 2, 2021, 11:59AMNuclear News

The World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) and Thailand’s Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) have signed a memorandum of understanding, WINS announced last week. WINS is a nongovernmental organization based in Vienna that works with the International Atomic Energy Agency on nuclear security–related issues. OAP is Thailand's nuclear regulatory body.

Centered on security: Under the MOU, WINS is supporting the establishment and operation of an IAEA nuclear security support center at OAP. The main functions of the center will include human resource development, technical support services for nuclear security equipment lifecycle management, and scientific support services for the provision of nuclear security expertise, analysis, and research and development, according to the IAEA.

A key aspect of the OAP project will be to support the development of Thailand’s national nuclear security training strategy, as well as to provide professional development activities to Thai nuclear stakeholders, WINS said. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada’s Weapons Threat Reduction Program.

ANS member Joyce Connery appointed as DNFSB chair

January 25, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News

President Biden has appointed Joyce Connery as chair of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB). Connery, an ANS member since 2012, was appointed to the board in August 2015 for a term ending in October 2019. She was confirmed again by the Senate as a DNFSB member on July 2, 2020, for a term expiring on October 18, 2024. Connery previously held the chairmanship from August 2015 until January 2017.

IAEA confirms Iran working on uranium metal for reactor fuel

January 14, 2021, 12:01PMANS News

Iran has started work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog and Tehran said on Wednesday. Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran’s representative at the International Atomic Energy Agency, confirmed that the country has started working on the fuel, saying that everything has been reported to the agency.

Iran's action is the latest breach of its nuclear deal with six significant powers as it presses for a lifting of U.S. sanctions.

Acting NNSA administrator to step down on Inauguration Day

January 14, 2021, 10:56AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Bookless

The acting head of the National Nuclear Security Administration will resign January 20, Inauguration Day, according to a report in the Aiken (S.C.) Standard. William Bookless, who has more than four decades of experience in the nuclear security field, will also retire from federal service that day, the agency confirmed to the Standard.

The NNSA has made no official announcement or named a replacement for Bookless as of Thursday morning.

U.S., Canada sign MOU on safeguards and nonproliferation

October 19, 2020, 9:29AMNuclear News

Brent Park, the NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Richard Sexton (on screen), president and chief executive officer of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, show the signed agreement. Photo: NNSA

The United States and Canada have signed a memorandum of understanding—Cooperation and Exchange of Information in Nuclear Security, Safeguards, and Nonproliferation Matters—to enable a more effective collaboration between the two countries in the areas of nuclear safety and security.

The five-year agreement was signed virtually on October 16 by Brent Park, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and two Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) executives: Richard Sexton, president and chief executive officer, and Shannon Quinn, vice president of Science, Technology, and Commercial Oversight.