Court dismisses challenges to Texas SNF storage facility

January 31, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
A rendering of ISP’s proposed interim storage facility in West Texas. (Image: ISP)

A federal appeals court rejected a lawsuit brought by environmental groups challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing of a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) for spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County, Texas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the NRC reasonably applied its hearing regulations when approving Interim Storage Partners’ (ISP) license for the facility.

Oklo submits licensing plan for fuel recycling facility

January 25, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

Oklo said it has submitted a licensing project plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, outlining the company’s plans for preapplication engagement activities that support the future licensing of a used nuclear fuel recycling facility. The first-of-a-kind facility is intended to produce fuel to support the deployment of Oklo’s advanced fission power plants.

DOE increases consent-based siting FOA to $26 million

January 23, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has increased the funding level for its community engagement on consent-based siting funding opportunity announcement (FOA) from $16 million to $26 million. The DOE first announced it was making funding available to communities interested in learning more about consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations last September. The FOA follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

Looking back at 2022—October through December

January 6, 2023, 9:09AMNuclear News

Another calendar year has passed. Before heading too far into 2023, let’s look back at what happened in 2022 for the American Nuclear Society and the nuclear community. In today's post that follows, we have compiled from Nuclear News and Nuclear Newswire what we feel are the top nuclear news stories from September through December 2022.

But first:

Two reports agree: Diverse advanced reactor fuel cycles can succeed

November 23, 2022, 6:39AMNuclear News

Advanced reactors and small modular reactors with strikingly different coolants and sizes offer an array of different benefits, but when it comes to fuel cycle issues, including spent fuel and waste, they have a lot in common with conventional light water reactors. Two reports released within the last week—a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) consensus committee report two years in the making and a Department of Energy study released by Argonne National Laboratory—address the timely topic of advanced reactor fuel cycle issues. While the NASEM committee ventured to define research and infrastructure needs to support the entire nuclear power fuel cycle, inclusive of new technologies, for decades to come, the DOE report compares the front- and back-end fuel cycle metrics of three reactor designs (from NuScale Power, TerraPower, and X-energy) that have been selected for DOE cost-share–funded demonstrations within this decade. Together, these reports provide assurance that the fuel cycle needs of a fleet of new reactors can be met and point to near-term research and planning needs.

DOE awards $38 million to advance used fuel recycling

October 26, 2022, 6:38AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy is providing $38 million in funding for a dozen projects aimed at developing technologies to advance spent nuclear fuel reprocessing, reduce the volume of high-level waste requiring permanent disposal, and provide domestic advanced reactor fuel stocks. The projects are being led by universities, private companies, and national laboratories.

GAIN funds companies’ work with ORNL on reactor siting and reprocessing

October 13, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
An aerial view of ORNL’s main campus. (Photo: ORNL)

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced the three recipients of its fourth and final round of 2022 vouchers on October 10. The vouchers were awarded to Curio Solutions, which is developing a spent fuel recycling process, and to two companies that are separately investigating advanced reactor siting—Elementl Power and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The funds for each award will go directly to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

DOE incentivizes interim storage with $16 million funding opportunity

September 26, 2022, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy has announced that it will make $16 million in funding available to communities interested in learning more about “consent-based siting, management of spent nuclear fuel, and interim storage facility siting considerations.” The funding opportunity follows the DOE’s recent update to its consent-based process for siting an interim storage facility for SNF.

Holtec to provide spent fuel canisters to six Spanish reactors

September 21, 2022, 3:14PMRadwaste Solutions
Spain’s nuclear power plants are to use Holtec’s HI-STORM spent fuel storage technology. (Image: Holtec)

Holtec International announced that its flagship HI-STORM Multi-Purpose Canister (MPC) spent fuel storage technology was selected by Spain’s national company Enresa for a fleet of six nuclear power reactors at four plant sites in the country. Equipos Nucleares S.A. (ENSA), a Cantabria-based manufacturer of equipment for the Spanish nuclear fleet, was named a consortium partner with Holtec in the order, which was conducted under European Union procurement rules.

Switzerland zeroes in on deep geological repository site

September 14, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
An illustration of Switzerland’s proposed deep geological repository. (Image: Nagra)

Nagra, Switzerland’s national cooperative for the disposal of radioactive waste, has announced that it has selected Nördlich Lägern as the site for a deep geological repository for radioactive waste. According to Nagra, extensive investigations have shown that Nördlich Lägern, located in northern Switzerland near the German border, is the most suitable area for a geologic repository with the best overall safety reserves.

NWTRB to hold public meeting on the disposal of spent fuel in clay

August 18, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board (NWTRB) announced it will hold a public meeting on September 13–14 to review information on Department of Energy research and development activities related to the geologic disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in clay-bearing host rocks and R&D on clay-based engineered barriers. The hybrid (in-person/virtual) meeting will begin on both days at 12:00 p.m. EDT and is scheduled to adjourn at approximately 5:00 p.m. EDT.

The NWTRB is an independent federal agency that provides ongoing, objective evaluation of the technical and scientific validity of activities undertaken by the DOE related to implementing the Nuclear Waste Police Act.

Canada adds one year to its repository site selection process

August 17, 2022, 6:59AMRadwaste Solutions
Ontario’s South Bruce area is being considered as a potential host site for a spent fuel repository. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is shifting the timing for selecting a preferred site for a spent nuclear fuel repository to the fall of 2024, a full year later than previously planned. The NWMO, a nonprofit organization tasked with the safe, long-term management of Canada’s spent fuel in a deep geological repository, said the delay is the result of several provincial lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Accelerated SRS spent fuel disposition plan to save billions, DOE says

July 7, 2022, 9:34AMRadwaste Solutions

Savannah River Site’s H Canyon and L Basin. (Photo: DOE-EM)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has approved a new plan that will accelerate the disposition of spent nuclear fuel at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina by more than 20 years, which will result in a savings of more than $4 billion.

Under the newly approved approach, called accelerated basin de-inventory (ABD), SRS will dissolve spent fuel at the site’s H Canyon chemical separations facility and send it through the liquid waste program to be vitrified and stored on-site until a federal repository is identified.

Researchers to study how metal-corroding microbes may grow in Canadian repository

June 13, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Myrna Simpson conducts molecular biogeochemistry research at the University of Toronto Scarborough. (Photo: Ken Jones/University of Toronto)

Researchers at three Canadian universities are studying whether bentonite clay—used as an engineered barrier in Canada’s proposed deep geological repository—can support sulfide-producing microbes that can eat away at the canisters containing spent nuclear fuel.

Canada demonstrates engineered barrier system for SNF disposal

June 9, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
A modified forklift with a customized handling attachment is used to move spent fuel containers and their heavy bentonite clay housings. It can move autonomously or be manually operated remotely from outside the room, as needed. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has announced that it has successfully completed a full-scale demonstration of the engineered barriers that are designed to contain and isolate Canada’s spent nuclear fuel in a deep geological repository.

Journalist: Nuclear waste management is key to nuclear renaissance

May 10, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe

“The momentum toward a new era of nuclear energy is predicated in part on government and industry claims that new technological solutions to nuclear waste are forthcoming. But challenges remain in their realization at the necessary scale,” writes freelance journalist Jenny Johnson in the article “Nuclear renaissance hinges on solving the waste issue."

Last of spent fuel from INL’s ATR moved to dry storage

March 3, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Spent nuclear fuel handlers move the last ATR fuel to an awaiting cask in the CPP-666 basin. (Photo: DOE)

The last spent nuclear fuel elements from Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) have been retrieved from a water-filled storage basin and transferred to a nearby dry-storage facility in accordance with a 1995 agreement with the State of Idaho, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced this week.

Sweden issues permits for spent fuel repository, encapsulation plant

February 2, 2022, 9:33AMRadwaste Solutions
Rendering of the Forsmark geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel in Sweden. Below ground, the repository covers three to four square kilometers at a depth of 500 meters. (Image: SKB)

The government of Sweden announced on January 27 that it has issued a permit to the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company (SKB) to build a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark in the municipality of Östhammar. The government also issued a permit to construct a spent fuel encapsulation plant in Oskarshamn, where the country’s inventory of spent fuel is currently being stored.

NWTRB to hold public meeting on DOE waste management, consent-based siting

January 24, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, an independent federal agency established by Congress to conduct ongoing technical and scientific evaluation of the Department of Energy’s efforts to manage and dispose of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, will hold virtual public meetings on March 1 and March 2, to review recent DOE activities.