In split from Euratom, U.K. will spend nearly $812 million on domestic fusion R&D

September 13, 2023, 12:06PMNuclear News

Having decided “to not associate to the Euratom Research and Training program (Euratom R&T) and, by extension, the Fusion for Energy Program,” the government of the United Kingdom announced plans on September 7 to support its homegrown UK Fusion Strategy by investing up to £650 million (about $811.8 million) through 2027 in a suite of research and development programs to support the country’s fusion sector and strengthen international collaboration. The funds are in addition to the £126 million (about $157.3 million) announced in November 2022 to support U.K. fusion R&D.

Sellafield begins removing waste from legacy fuel cladding store

August 17, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo on the Sellafield site in West Cumbria, England. (Photo: Sellafield Ltd.)

After decades of planning and weeks of preparation and checks, the first batch of legacy waste has been retrieved from the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria, England. According to Sellafield Ltd., the site license company, a state-of-the-art robotic arm was used to reach into the silo and, for the first time, remove and repackage the waste for longer-term storage.

These retrievals mark a significant achievement in progress toward the cleanup and decommissioning of one of the most hazardous buildings on the site, according to Sellafield Ltd., which made the announcement on August 16.

Watch a video about the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo and Sellafield’s waste retrieval operations here.

DOE-EM–Sandia team survey Sellafield robotic systems

August 16, 2023, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE-EM–Sandia team and Sellafield representatives pose with Spot Robot at the Sellafield Engineering and Maintenance Centre of Excellence. (Photo: DOE)

Robotics experts from Sandia National Laboratories and representatives from the Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management’s Technology Development Office recently visited the Sellafield nuclear site in England to discuss how robotics, artificial intelligence, and other emerging tools can be developed and used in nuclear cleanup operations.

Sellafield marks two flight firsts in the use of drones at the U.K. site

August 8, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

Technical specialist Peter King (left) and Sam Jay, UAV engineer and chief pilot, at Sellafield’s Engineering Centre of Excellence, with the Flyability Elios 3 drone. (Photo: Sellafield)

Sellafield Ltd., a subsidiary of the U.K. government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, announced that drone pilots have successfully completed two firsts in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, England.

According to the company, the flights, which accessed a Sellafield building with limited space using a light detection and ranging (lidar) sensor and a radiation dosimeter, are helping improve the safety of employees during the decommissioning of the site’s legacy buildings.

Mapping flight: First, an Elios 3 drone equipped with a lidar sensor was able to successfully collect data from a site building. The data will be processed to produce a 3D model of the area, which will help inform engineering decisions. According to Sellafield, the mapping flight marks a major milestone for the site’s UAV team, enabling unparalleled efficiency in mapping and 3D modeling.

U.K. to begin new search for a geological repository

June 29, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Concept art showing a geological disposal facility with tunnels and vaults in deep underground rock, under the seabed. (Image: NWS)

Nuclear Waste Services, the United Kingdom’s radioactive waste management organization, launched in January 2022, has begun a wide range of studies to evaluate sites that could be suitable to host a geological disposal facility (GDF).

Invested in nuclear

June 8, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear NewsSteven Arndt

Steven Arndt

This will be my last column in Nuclear News as president of the American Nuclear Society. Where has the year gone? For me and for all of us in the nuclear community it has been an exciting and productive 12 months. We have cheered the decision to extend Diablo Canyon operations, witnessed fuel loading and—hopefully by the time the June issue of NN is out—the start of commercial operations of Unit 3 at Vogtle, and seen significant strides forward in the licensing and deployment of small modular reactors. Internationally, we have watched the progress in the deployment of new units in the United Arab Emirates and other countries, as well as renewed commitment to nuclear in countries including Japan, South Korea, India, and the United Kingdom. All of this has been a result of both public and private investment in and commitment to nuclear.

Recently, the Inflation Reduction Act and other government actions in the United States have provided opportunities for increased investment in nuclear energy, including production tax credits and investment tax credits.

Jacobs, University of Manchester launch robotics research center

May 26, 2023, 9:58AMNuclear News

The Texas-based engineering company Jacobs and the University of Manchester in England are forming a new international research center designed to create robotics and autonomous systems that the organizations say will play a key role in the response to climate change.

Five G7 nations form alliance to reduce reliance on Russian nuclear fuel

April 20, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The ministers representing their respective nations as the statement on civil nuclear fuel cooperation was announced were (from left) Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of natural resources of Canada; Yasutoshi Nishimura, Japan’s minister of economy, trade, and industry; Jennifer Granholm, U.S. energy secretary; Grant Shapps, U.K. energy security secretary; and Agnes Pannier-Runacher, French minister for energy transition.

A civil nuclear fuel security agreement between the five nuclear leaders of the G7—announced on April 16 on the sidelines of the G7 Ministers’ Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment in Sapporo, Japan—establishes cooperation between Canada, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States to flatten Russia’s influence in the global nuclear fuel supply chain.

UCC completes nuclear diving project at legacy Sellafield pond

April 13, 2023, 12:02PMRadwaste Solutions

In December 2022, UCC UK became the first nuclear diving company in more than 60 years to enter Sellafield’s PFSP. (Photo: Sellafield Ltd.)

Underwater Construction Corporation (UCC) UK Ltd. announced that it has recently completed a nuclear diving pilot project at the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria, England. UCC UK said the project marks a significant decommissioning milestone for Sellafield, demonstrating the capability of the company’s methods and equipment to remediate the legacy nuclear pond while limiting worker dose.

The oldest pool on the Sellafield site, the PFSP was constructed between the late 1940s and early 1950s as a storage and cooling facility for irradiated fuel and isotopes from the two Windscale reactors and was in full operation until 1962. Then through the mid-1970s, the pond facility, one of six on the site, was used for storage of intermediate-level waste and fuel from the U.K. nuclear program.

Reliable testing under all conditions

March 29, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear NewsChristoph Gatzen and Simon Lemin
VR glasses from manufacturer RealWear.

The challenges of climate change are bringing nuclear energy back into focus. Even in Germany, which decided on a general nuclear phaseout in 2011 as a response to the Fukushima disaster that year, nuclear energy is again being discussed as a bridging technology. Compared with fossil fuels, nuclear saves considerable greenhouse gases. However, for a holistic view of CO2 emissions from power plants, the procurement, maintenance, and repair of plant components must also be considered. At the very least, the CO2 emissions caused by the high costs of testing and maintaining a nuclear power plant can be reduced.

Last Energy sets up microreactor deals for Poland and the U.K.

March 29, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
A rendering of Last Energy's nuclear power plant. (Image: Last Energy)

Startup company Last Energy has announced power purchase agreements for 34 units of its 20-MWe nuclear power plants with four industrial partners in Poland and the United Kingdom. In total, according to the company, the deals represent more than $18.9 billion in electricity sales.

Moving mixed loads creating efficiencies in U.K. rail transportation

March 28, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste SolutionsBeverley Stothart
Two British Class 88 locomotives transport a nuclear waste flask wagon across Great Britain. (Photos: NTS)

Since its formation in 2005, the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has been tasked with ensuring that the U.K.’s nuclear legacy sites are decommissioned and cleaned up safely, securely, cost-effectively, and in ways that protect the people and the environment.

Second waste retrieval machine installed at Sellafield

March 9, 2023, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
The first silo emptying machine installed in the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo at the U.K. Sellafield site. (Photo: Gov.UK)

The second of three machines that will be used to safely remove waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo at the Sellafield nuclear site in the United Kingdom has successfully been assembled, it was announced by Sellafield Ltd., a subsidiary of the U.K. government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

A video showing how waste is removed and the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo prepared for decommissioning has been posted to YouTube and can be found here.

U.K. picks a coal power station for its fusion pilot, but still needs a design

October 11, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production, shown here in an artist's rendition, is a government-backed prototype fusion energy plant planned for operation in the U.K. in the early 2040s. (Image: UKAEA)

The U.K. Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and Tokamak Energy announced on October 10 that they signed a framework agreement to collaborate on developing spherical tokamaks for power production. This news is a complement to last week’s announcement from the U.K. government that the West Burton A coal-fired power plant site in Nottinghamshire has been selected as the future home of STEP (Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production), the U.K.’s planned prototype fusion energy plant. The government is providing £220 million (about $250 million) of funding for the first phase of STEP, which will see the UKAEA produce a concept design by 2024.

U.K. fusion energy projects get regulatory clarity to speed deployment

June 23, 2022, 7:01AMNuclear News
The Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production (STEP), shown here, is a government-backed prototype fusion energy plant planned for operation in the U.K. in the early 2040s. (Image: UKAEA)

Future fusion energy facilities will continue to be regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) and Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the U.K. government announced June 20, and existing law on nuclear regulations will be amended to exclude fusion energy facilities from nuclear fission regulatory and licensing requirements. The move was announced by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) with the expectation it would provide “clarity to developers of prototype/demonstration fusion facilities currently being planned to support rapid commercialization.”

Europe’s confused climate strategy

March 18, 2022, 3:55PMNuclear NewsMatthew L. Wald

Europeans are taking resolute steps to reduce their output of climate-changing gases, but some countries are moving in the wrong direction.

Many countries are adding solar and wind, which are low-carbon energy sources. Some have moved to biomass, the value of which as a climate cure is not clear. A few are adding reactors, while others are defining nuclear as dirty energy and natural gas as “clean” and are changing their generation mix accordingly.

Perma-Fix, Westinghouse to cooperate on U.K. waste treatment facility

March 15, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Bulk Processing Unit at the Perma-Fix Northwest waste treatment facility. (Photo: Perma-Fix)

Westinghouse Electric Company and nuclear waste management company Perma-Fix Environmental Services plan to jointly develop a state-of-the-art advanced materials treatment facility in the United Kingdom. During the 2022 Waste Management Symposia, held last week in Phoenix, Ariz., the two companies signed a nonbinding agreement to cooperate on a facility that will provide low-level radioactive waste treatment services to the European market.

Where are strong nuclear export markets likely to emerge?

March 7, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear NewsGuest Contributor

Three factors will drive nuclear exports: energy security, decarbonization, and geopolitics. Recent power prices in Europe, coupled with the situation in Ukraine, demonstrate the interplay of all three factors. Nuclear exports have to be viewed in the context of the current geopolitical climate, particularly relative to Russian and Chinese competitive offerings. Finally, the critical importance of nuclear energy in meeting global decarbonization efforts can be a driving force for exports, further enhanced by the inclusion of nuclear energy in clean/green taxonomies and the accompanying support from the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investor community.

U.K. launches new radioactive waste management organization

February 1, 2022, 7:35AMRadwaste Solutions

The government of the United Kingdom on January 31 announced the launch of Nuclear Waste Services. The new organization brings together site operator Low Level Waste Repository Limited, geological disposal facility developer Radioactive Waste Management Limited, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Integrated Waste Management Program.

According to the U.K. government, Nuclear Waste Services will maintain current commitments to the Low-Level Waste Repository in West Cumbria, the geological disposal facility program, and the communities involved with both, while also creating a business with the capability to manage U.K. nuclear waste “safely and securely for generations to come.”

Looking back at 2021—Nuclear News April through June

January 7, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News

This is the third of five articles to be posted today to look back at the top news stories of 2021 for the nuclear community. The full article, "Looking back at 2021,"was published in the January 2022 issue of Nuclear News.

Quite a year was 2021. In the following stories, we have compiled what we feel are the past year’s top news stories from the April-June time frame—please enjoy this recap from a busy year in the nuclear community.