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.

What is involved in radiation protection at accelerator facilities?

February 29, 2024, 3:03PMNuclear NewsIrina Popova

Irina Popova

Particle accelerators have evolved from exotic machines probing hadron interactions to understand the fundamentals of our world to widely used instruments in research and for medical and industrial use. For research purposes, high-power machines are employed, often producing secondary particle beams through primary beam interaction with a target material involving many meters of shielding. The charged beam interacts with the surrounding structures, producing both prompt radiation and secondary radiation from activated materials. After beam termination, some parts of the facility remain radioactive and potentially can become radiation hazards over time. Radiation protection for accelerator facilities involves a range of actions for operation within safe boundaries (an accelerator safety envelope). Each facility establishes fundamental safety principles, requirements, and measures to control radiation exposure to people and the release of radioactive material in the environment.

Type One Energy wants to build a stellarator at retired coal plant

February 23, 2024, 6:59AMNuclear News
TVA's Bull Run fossil plant. (Photo: TVA)

Type One Energy Group announced plans on February 21 to relocate its headquarters from Madison, Wis., to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Bull Run fossil plant in Clinton, Tenn., where it will build a stellarator fusion prototype machine. According to the company, the construction of the stellarator—called Infinity One—could begin in 2025, if necessary environmental reviews, partnership agreements, permits, and operating licenses are all in hand.

Taking aim at disease

February 16, 2024, 3:02PMNuclear NewsKristi Nelson Bumpus
ORNL radioisotope manufacturing coordinator Jillene Sennon-Greene places a shipment vial of actinium-225 inside the dose calibrator to confirm its activity is within customer specifications. (Photo: Carlos Jones/ORNL, DOE)

On August 2, 1946, 1 millicurie of the isotope carbon-14 left Oak Ridge National Laboratory, bound for the Barnard Free Skin and Cancer Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.

That tiny amount of the radioisotope was purchased by the hospital for use in cancer studies. And it heralded a new peacetime mission for ORNL, built just a few years earlier for the production of plutonium from uranium for the Manhattan Project.

Zeno Power will repurpose legacy radioisotope source from ORNL

January 31, 2024, 12:03PMNuclear News

Zeno Power announced on January 26 that it will get the strontium-90 that it needs to fuel full-scale radioisotope power systems (RPSs) for national security and space exploration missions from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM). Under a public-private partnership, a large legacy RPS known as the BUP-500 that had languished, unused, in storage at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been transported to an unnamed commercial radiological facility in Pennsylvania—Zeno Power’s subcontractor—where the Sr-90 it contains will be repurposed as heat sources for Zeno Power devices.

Nuclear Energy 101 ends on nuclear applications note

January 22, 2024, 3:02PMANS News

Nuclear Energy 101, the five-course educational series for congressional staffers, came to a close in October with its final talk. This seminar series is a fun—and popular—tool for ANS to explain the basics of nuclear science and technology to and network with Capitol Hill denizens. After a long hiatus, the series returned in March 2023, and delivered five successful courses.

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.

UCOR working to fill Oak Ridge’s cleanup worker pipeline

December 15, 2023, 9:50AMRadwaste Solutions
UCOR’s Ken Rueter speaks to University of Tennessee students during an engineering colloquium series. (Photo: DOE)

A significant percentage of the workforce at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee is eligible to retire in the next decade, according to the agency. In an effort to address the potential for a staffing shortage, UCOR, the DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management contractor for cleanup activities at the site, is building a consortium with colleges and universities in the region. The collaboration aims to guide more students toward nuclear-applicable careers to build the next generation of workers for Oak Ridge and the nuclear industry at large.

How do national labs help move nuclear technologies to deployment?

December 6, 2023, 7:06AMNuclear NewsHussein Khalil

Hussein Khalil

Within the next decade, it is expected that the first round of advanced reactor (AR) demonstration units will be successfully started up and operated, with additional industry-led nuclear energy initiatives progressing toward demonstration. These AR prototypes will be first-of-a-kind systems incorporating significant technological advances. Attracting the required investment for construction and operation will require persistent efforts to improve performance, reduce costs, attract an investor/-customer base, and establish the supply chain and workforce needed to meet this emerging demand.

Public-private partnerships focused on technology and design advancements will likely be needed through at least 2050. These partnerships will require the research community—and the national labs in particular—to play a key role in developing technical solutions for economically competitive systems and helping address other challenges to sustained and expanded use of nuclear energy. These challenges include managing used nuclear fuel, minimizing nuclear security and proliferation risks, and pursuing international markets.

UCOR partners with college to fill cleanup roles

October 25, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
UCOR chemical operator apprentices (seated) take instruction at the Liquid and Gaseous Waste Operations at ORNL. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management cleanup contractor UCOR has increased its ability to recruit employees through a recent partnership with Tennessee’s Roane State Community College.

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.

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.

ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source reaches 1.7-MW power level

July 24, 2023, 3:03PMNuclear News
Upgrades to the particle accelerator enabling the record 1.7-MW beam operating power at the ORNL’s SNS included adding 28 high-power radio-frequency klystrons (red tubes) to provide higher power for the accelerator. (Photo: Genevieve Martin/ORNL)

The Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory set a world record when its particle accelerator beam operating power reached 1.7 MW, an improvement on the facility’s original design capability of 1.4 MW, ORNL announced on July 21. That higher power provides more neutrons for researchers who use the Office of Science user facility for materials science investigations.

DOE ramps up plutonium oxide production to fuel NASA’s deep space missions

July 20, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News
ORNL has developed an automated metrology system to produce Pu-238 pellets. (Photo: ORNL)

The Department of Energy recently shipped half a kilogram of plutonium oxide pellets from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to Los Alamos National Laboratory, the agency announced July 18, marking the largest such shipment since the DOE restarted domestic plutonium-238 production over a decade ago.

Kairos test reactor passes NRC safety review

June 28, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has completed its final safety evaluation for Kairos Power’s application to build its Hermes advanced test reactor at a site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the agency announced recently. The evaluation found no safety aspects precluding issuance of a construction permit for the proposed reactor.

Seven companies get GAIN vouchers in this year’s third award round

June 27, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced June 26 the companies that have received GAIN Nuclear Energy Vouchers, which allow private companies to access the expertise and research capabilities of Department of Energy national laboratories to advance their projects toward commercial deployment. This is the third round of GAIN vouchers awarded for fiscal year 2023; the first round was announced in December 2022 and the second in March.