Proof of concept: The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in Nuclear News

May 9, 2024, 3:00PMNuclear News
The December 1960 issue of NN, which announced plans to build the MSRE, paired with a still image from a 1969 video on the MSRE produced by ORNL.

By late 1960, when the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission authorized plans to build a Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the lab already had about 13 years of experimentation with molten salt reactors under its longest-serving lab director, Alvin Weinberg. The MSRE operated from 1965 to 1969, proving that molten salt reactors could operate reliably, and with alternatives to uranium-235 too.

DOE-EM finishes cleanup of legacy Oak Ridge reactor lab site

May 3, 2024, 1:25PMRadwaste Solutions
UCOR employees use a crane to load the Low Intensity Test Reactor vessel for transport to its final disposition location in Clive, Utah. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced that the 30-foot-long, 37,600-pound reactor vessel from Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Low Intensity Test Reactor was shipped to EnergySolutions’ low-level radioactive waste facility in Clive, Utah, in late April.

Labor pact to boost pay, benefits to Oak Ridge cleanup workers

April 1, 2024, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
From left, Erik Olds, OREM deputy manager; Jay Mullis, OREM manager; Brandon Bishop, NABTU secretary-treasurer; Sean McGarvey, NABTU president; Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO; William “Ike” White, DOE-EM senior advisor; and Jeff Avery, DOE-EM principal deputy assistant secretary.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced the signing of a project labor agreement (PLA) between Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) contractor UCOR and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The agreement, which allows for flexibility in wage increases and other incentives, is expected to help recruit and retain skilled construction trade workers at the DOE site in Tennessee.

X-energy’s helium coolant and fuel handling test facility gets EA/FONSI

March 11, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
Concept art of the planned X-energy helium test facility. (Image: DOE OCED)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations issued a final environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact in February for a cost-shared X-energy project to construct and operate a helium test facility (HTF) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. According to the EA, construction would begin in early 2024 and take X-energy and its contracted partner, Kinectrics, about one year to complete. the facility would then operate for six years, with the possibility of extensions for up to an additional 20 years, to test equipment for a demonstration of X-energy’s high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor technology and also to “serve the reactor community at large as the technology continues to develop and is adopted around the world.”

DOE sets 2024 cleanup goals for Oak Ridge

January 10, 2024, 3:59PMRadwaste Solutions
Oak Ridge crews will begin demolition of the 325,000-sqaure-foot Alpha-2 facility this year, marking the first teardown of a former uranium enrichment facility at Y-12. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy announced that its Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) is moving ahead with a slate of projects this year that will alter the Tennessee site’s skyline, remove inventories of nuclear waste, and complete a major phase of cleanup.

DOE's cleanup year in review

December 21, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy, in its 2023 Year in Review released on December 20, noted that its cleanup program in 2023 had successes in treating liquid tank waste, carrying out deactivation and decommissioning, remediating groundwater and soil contamination, and reducing risk at its various sites across the nation.

William “Ike” White, senior advisor in the DOE's Office of Environmental Management, said that the office “realized numerous accomplishments in 2023 that not only reduce risks but help position cleanup sites for the next phase of progress. In addition, our workforce’s efforts over the past year led to a cleaner environment while also boosting DOE’s national security missions, supporting scientific innovation, and enabling a better future.”

Oak Ridge seeing returns on investment in new regulatory partnerships

October 11, 2023, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions
Contaminated soil is loaded in containers for disposal at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said a new regulatory partnership framework established in recent years by the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), its contractor United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) is ushering in a new chapter of accelerated cleanup at the department’s Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.

Crews demolish second legacy Oak Ridge reactor lab

October 2, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Low Intensity Test Reactor structure is lifted from its housing and placed in a specialized carbon metal container for shipment for disposal. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced it has completed a second of its 2023 priorities at Oak Ridge in as many months with the demolition of the Low Intensity Test Reactor, known as Building 3005, at the Tennessee site.

Watch a video of Building 3005 and its decommissioning here.

Oak Ridge breaks ground on critical new disposal facility

August 25, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Taking part in the Environmental Management Disposal Facility groundbreaking, from left, were Steve Arnette of Jacobs; Mark Whitney of Amentum,; Wade Creswell, a Roane Co., Tenn., executive; Brent Booker of the Laborers’ International Union of North America; Kevin Adkisson of North America’s Building Trades Unions; Jeaneanne Gettle of the EPA; Lt. Gov. Randy McNally; David Salyers of TDEC; Ken Rueter of UCOR; Jay Mullis of OREM; U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann; and DOE-EM’s William “Ike” White. (Photo: DOE)

National, state, and local leaders joined the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its lead cleanup contractor, United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), earlier this month to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new on-site disposal facility at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.

Watch a video highlighting the Environmental Management Disposal Facility groundbreaking ceremony here.

Y-12’s Alpha-2 building prepped for demolition in early 2024

August 16, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Alpha-2 building at Y-12 in Oak Ridge is a former uranium enrichment facility that dates to the Manhattan Project era. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said that crews have completed major deactivation efforts at the Alpha-2 building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The former uranium enrichment facility is scheduled for demolition next year.

Fusion company Type One Energy opens Oak Ridge talent center

August 4, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R., Tenn.) speaks at the ETEC NOW Conference in Knoxville. (Photo: Type One Energy

Type One Energy Group, a Madison, Wis. –based stellarator fusion energy company, announced the opening of new offices in Oak Ridge, Tenn., during the East Tennessee Economic Council’s fifth annual NOW Conference, held August 1–2 in Knoxville.

Type One Energy’s expansion into Oak Ridge follows the company’s recent funding of an oversubscribed seed round of $29 million. The company is also one of eight fusion developers that was selected by the Department of Energy in late May to receive a total of $46 million in funding to kick off the public-private Milestone-Based Fusion Development Program, aimed at developing fusion pilot plant designs.

Tennessee Tech launches nuclear engineering program with help from UCOR

June 13, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
UCOR president and CEO Ken Rueter (left) and Tennessee Tech president Phil Oldham have signed a memorandum of understanding formalizing a new partnership on workforce development supporting cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation. (Photo: TTU)

United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), the Department of Energy’s lead environmental cleanup contractor at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, has formed a new partnership with Tennessee Tech University focused on building a pipeline of highly skilled workers for cleanup work at the site. Working with UCOR, the university’s College of Engineering is to launch a new nuclear engineering degree program beginning in fall 2024.

Crews demolish first reactor in Oak Ridge’s central campus

November 15, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews completed the teardown of Oak Ridge’s Bulk Shielding Reactor (Building 3010), once used for research as part of the federal Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program. (Photos: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said its cleanup contractor UCOR recently completed the first-ever demolition of a reactor in the central campus area at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

DOE breaks ground on isotope production center at Oak Ridge

October 26, 2022, 12:20PMNuclear News
Secretary Granholm, center, leads breaking the ground for the SIPRC at ORNL, along with (from left) ORNL site manager Johnny Moore, ORNL director Thomas Zacharia; DOE undersecretary for science and innovation Geraldine Richmond; and DOE Office of Science director Asmeret Asefaw Berhe. (Photo: Genevieve Martin/ORNL/DOE)

The Department of Energy held a groundbreaking ceremony on October 24 for the Stable Isotope Production and Research Center (SIPRC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The center is being built to expand the nation’s capability to enrich stable isotopes for medical, industrial, and research applications.

Draft EIS for fluoride salt–cooled test reactor now out for public comment

October 3, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
An artist’s rendering of Hermes. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) recently on Kairos Power’s application for a permit to construct Hermes, a 35-MW nonpower version of the company’s fluoride salt–cooled reactor design (KP-FHR), at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The IRA: Crediting nuclear energy

September 7, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News

While the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), recently signed into law, has created a good deal of buzz in the nuclear community, the thought of wading through its 730 pages of legislative language can be a bit intimidating. Which is why, on August 26, the American Nuclear Society offered an hour-long, members-only webinar on the legislation and its key provisions for nuclear energy.

Moderated by John Starkey, ANS’s director of public policy, “Inflation Reduction Act: What’s in It for Nuclear” featured Benton Arnett, director of markets and policy for the Nuclear Energy Institute; Josh Siegel, energy and climate change reporter for Politico; Rory Stanley, staff member of the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Elina Teplinsky, partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; and James Wickett, partner at Hogan Lovells. (ANS members can view the full webinar here.)

Ultra Safe Nuclear opens pilot-scale TRISO fuel facility in Oak Ridge

August 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Terrani, Huff, and Fleischmann had the honor of cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Pilot Fuel Manufacturing facility. (Photo: USNC)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) celebrated the opening of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on August 18 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour attended by assistant secretary for nuclear energy Kathryn Huff, Tennessee lieutenant governor Randy McNally, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R.), representatives from the offices of Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R.) and Bill Hagerty (R.), and other distinguished guests. The next day, radiological operations began at the privately funded facility, which was designed and built in less than twelve months within an existing industrial building purchased by USNC in 2021.

UCOR wins Top Workplace award

August 9, 2022, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Members of the UCOR team receive their award at a Top Workplaces event.

United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR), the lead environmental cleanup contractor for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), has been named one of the Knoxville News Sentinel’s “Top Workplaces” in eastern Tennessee for 2022. The award is the result of a confidential, third-party survey of UCOR’s 2,000-member workforce by the Knoxville News Sentinel and the survey company Energage.