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.”

China’s prototype technology described as step toward energy independence

June 20, 2022, 9:27AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Roadmap for the China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System project development. (Image: Zhijun Wang/CAS)

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Modern Physics are making strides with their China Initiative Accelerator-Driven System (CiADS) technology, which is being developed to get more life out of used nuclear fuel. Defense One, an online news source that focuses on “the future of U.S. defense and national security,” describes the prototype system as a step in moving China toward energy independence and advancing that nation’s “global leadership in climate-friendly technology.”

Latest stats on nuclear energy in Europe released by nucleareurope

June 14, 2022, 8:39AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The Brussels-based nuclear energy trade association nucleareurope has published its latest Infographics, containing a variety of facts and figures on the use of nuclear energy in Europe. Some of the many interesting bits of information in the publication are highlighted below.

Fast reactor technology getting renewed attention

June 7, 2022, 12:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fast reactor technology, which can run on used nuclear fuel to generate energy, could fulfill U.S. energy needs for 100 years using existing waste, according to Jess Gehin, associate lab director at Idaho National Laboratory and an ANS member in a recent interview with CNBC. Gehin and other nuclear experts believe that this technology could provide substantial energy for the country, help resolve the debate over storing spent nuclear waste, and address the issue of climate change with more carbon-free energy generation. However, the commercial development of fast reactor technology has been hampered by political and economic roadblocks, which researchers are now seeking to overcome.

David Edsey: A view from outside the nuclear community

March 14, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsRick Michal

David Edsey

This past October, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held a hearing titled “Good for Business: Private Sector Perspectives on Climate Action.” The hearing reviewed perspectives on the importance of the government’s investments in climate action and how these investments would contribute to job creation and economic growth. Those testifying included the founder of a solar energy company, the head of communications and policy for a popular outdoors clothing company, a former deputy energy secretary for the Department of Energy, and an executive from an insurance company.

While the solar company founder and the communications head spoke out against nuclear energy, the former deputy energy secretary, during testimony, was in favor of it. The insurance executive, David Edsey, also talked in support of nuclear during the committee’s Q&A session after testimony.

A look back at the Blue Ribbon Commission

March 3, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Spent fuel in dry storage at the decommissioned Zion site in Illinois awaits a permanent home. (Photo: EnergySolutions)

The deadline for submitting comments on the Department of Energy’s request for information on using a consent-based approach to siting federal facilities for the interim storage of spent nuclear fuel is Friday, March 4.

Becoming agile and innovative in an evolving nuclear landscape: Changing the industry narrative for a strong future

November 29, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear NewsGleb Tsipursky
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. (Photo: PG&E)

Last April, Entergy had to close its Indian Point nuclear plant. That’s despite the plant’s being recognized as one of the best-run U.S. nuclear plants. That’s also despite its 20-year license extension process having been nearly completed, with full support from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

This closure was due in large part to opposition by antinuclear environmental groups. These groups also mobilized existing negative public opinion on nuclear energy to get politicians to oppose the plant’s license extension. Another factor is unfair market conditions. Nuclear energy doesn’t get due government support—unlike solar, wind, and hydro—despite delivering clean, zero-emissions energy.

Oak Ridge upgrades waste shipment tracking system

November 8, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A truck loaded with waste crosses the scale at the East Tennessee Technology Park at Oak Ridge. Each truck used by Oak Ridge contractor UCOR is equipped with a unique radio frequency identification card that logs its movements and weight and registers the data in a database.

UCOR, the primary contractor for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OEM), recently transitioned to a new waste tracking system that improves how shipments are tracked from work sites to disposal locations.

The new system includes upgraded radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking for trucks, as well as new hardware and software, allowing for an automated tracking operation that delivers up-to-the-minute waste disposal data.

Decommissioning San Onofre

November 5, 2021, 3:37PMNuclear NewsJohn Dobken

Imagine it’s January 1998. A specially equipped train from the Department of Energy rolls up to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to pick up spent nuclear fuel and take it to the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. This scene is repeated thousands of times at nuclear plant sites across the U.S. over the ensuing decades. The solution to permanent spent fuel disposal as outlined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (and its amendments) is working as intended. The nation’s commercial spent fuel is safely isolated deep underground for the long term.

But that is not what happened. Work on Yucca Mountain has been stalled for a full decade, and the organization within the DOE that by law is responsible for managing the spent fuel program has been defunded and disbanded.

Radiation safety expert debunks three myths about nuclear waste

July 20, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Photo: University of Manchester (U.K.)

Nuclear waste should not be used as an excuse for trying to shut down nuclear reactors, says radiation safety expert Andrew Karam in his recent article for the American Council on Science and Health titled, “Let’s Talk about Radioactive Waste."

One small step for nuclear waste?

May 12, 2021, 5:55AMANS Nuclear CafeSteven Nesbit
The underground Exploratory Studies Facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada built by the Department of Energy to determine whether the location was suitable as a deep geological nuclear waste repository. Courtesy of the Department of Energy.

It is no secret that the U.S. government’s program to manage and dispose of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste is in a deep ditch. Private companies continue to safely store used fuel at U.S. nuclear reactor sites, some of which ceased power operations decades ago. Other countries, such as Finland, Sweden, France, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, and China, are moving forward on permanent disposal, while for the past 11 years, the U.S. government has done nothing constructive to discharge its HLW disposal responsibilities. Rather than taking action, successive Congresses and administrations have sat on their collective hands.

Walls going up for new disposal unit at Savannah River Site

March 23, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The first wall section of Saltstone Disposal Unit 8 is being constructed at the Savannah River Site. Source: DOE

The first wall section of Saltstone Disposal Unit 8 (SDU 8) at the Department of Energy's Savannah River Site in South Carolina was installed earlier this month.

SDU 8 will stand 43 feet tall and 375 feet in diameter, and have a 33-million-gallon capacity, just like two SDUs built recently at the site. The 25 wall sections of SDU 8 are being constructed using high-strength, reinforced concrete and will be wrapped with seven layers of more than 300 miles of steel cable for added strength.

The flooring of SDU 8 is more than halfway complete. The concrete floor sits on top of a multilayer foundation: a geosynthetic clay liner and high-density plastic liner sandwiched between two concrete layers called “mud mats.” The floor is being completed in 14 sections.

The disposal units are built to safely and permanently contain decontaminated salt solution processed at Savannah River, the DOE reported on March 9.

The year in review 2020: Waste Management

January 8, 2021, 2:50PMRadwaste Solutions

Here is a look back at the top stories of 2020 from our Waste Management section in Newswire and Nuclear News magazine. Remember to check back to Newswire soon for more top stories from 2020.

Waste Management section

  • First-ever cleanup of uranium enrichment plant celebrated at Oak Ridge: The completion of the decades-long effort to clean up the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant was celebrated on October 13, with Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette joining U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, and other state and community leaders at the East Tennessee Technology Park, where the uranium enrichment complex once stood. Read more.