Countries change nuclear policies in response to Ukraine war

January 6, 2023, 7:09AMNuclear News

As a direct result of the war in Ukraine, several countries have changed their policies on nuclear energy—even those with long-standing nuclear phase-out plans. This February will mark one year since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine, leading to ongoing war and turning pandemic-era energy shortages into a global energy crisis. Spiking gas prices and concerns about electricity supply during the cold winter months have thrown many governments into a frenzy as they try to ease the impact on their citizens.

Countries in the process of phasing out their nuclear power had been prepared to increase their reliance on natural gas. But as Russia supplies 40 percent of the European Union’s natural gas, nations with no reliable alternative now face sky-high energy prices—even energy poverty. Across Europe and beyond, nuclear power plants slated for permanent closure have been given second chances to shore up energy supply. Nuclear power has also claimed a bigger spotlight in countries’ strategies for energy independence.

Westinghouse, Framatome to provide fuel for Kozloduy

January 5, 2023, 6:59AMNuclear News

Westinghouse Electric and Framatome have signed agreements with Kozloduy NPP—the eponymous operator of Bulgaria’s only nuclear power facility—to fabricate and deliver fuel for the site’s two operating reactors. Westinghouse will provide the fuel for Unit 5 under a 10-year contract inked on December 22, while Framatome will supply Unit 6 under a December 30 preliminary deal. First deliveries of fuel from Westinghouse and Framatome are expected in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

The two agreements, according to the Bulgarian News Agency, “are part of an effort to diversify energy supplies to Bulgaria and do away with the country’s dependence on Russian energy resources.” In November, the Bulgarian National Assembly approved 156–47 a resolution tasking the country’s Council of Ministers with licensing non-Russian nuclear fuel for Kozloduy.

Russia building protection over Zaporizhzhia spent fuel tanks, according to Russian news source

December 21, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
This image from a video reportedly shows the start of installation of a protective covering over spent fuel storage tanks at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. (Image: Telegram/Vladimir Rogov)

Russia has begun construction of protected covering at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to a December 17 report from Russian news outlet RT. The story has been picked up in the West by some news agencies but has not been widely circulated.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, said, “Russia is constructing a protective dome over spent radioactive fuel stores at the [Zaporizhzhia] nuclear power plant as Ukrainian forces continue to target the facility.”

Lawmakers press DFC to invest in nuclear

December 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter last week to Scott Nathan, chief executive officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), urging the agency to begin financing nuclear energy projects and support the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear technology.

Signing the December 8 letter were Sens. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska), and Jim Risch (R., Idaho).

Zaporizhzhia the focus of Grossi interview

December 1, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Grossi

The ongoing, tense situation surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the subject of a recent interview with International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi when he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes program.

The Zaporizhzhia facility is in an area of Ukraine that became occupied by Russian forces in late February 2022. Though Ukrainian staff remain at the now mostly idle plant, artillery shells have repeatedly landed at and near the plant over the past several months, with Ukrainian officials—along with many Western media outlets—blaming Russia, while Russian officials and media blame Ukraine.

Action from the IAEA: Following months of negotiations with both sides, inspectors from the IAEA, led by Grossi, finally visited the site in late August and early September, and the agency has been monitoring the situation since then with an observation mission at the site. In the interview, which aired on November 20, Grossi did not attribute blame for the shelling to either side.

Four recipients awarded ANS Presidential Citations

December 1, 2022, 9:35AMANS News

At this year’s Winter Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, American Nuclear Society President Steven Arndt honored four ANS members with Presidential Citations. The president of ANS has the privilege of presenting presidential citations to individuals who, in their opinion, have demonstrated outstanding effort in some manner for the benefit of ANS and/or the nuclear community.

The awards are “highlighted throughout our community as a personal outreach to our recipients to say, ‘well done,’” said Arndt.

U.K., France declare support for Sizewell project

October 11, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

On the sidelines of the first European Political Community (EPC) summit in Prague last week, U.K. prime minister Liz Truss and French president Emmanuel Macron met to discuss bilateral cooperation, with a particular focus on the energy sector. (Macron proposed the creation of the EPC earlier this year, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Representatives of 44 European countries participated, as did the presidents of the European Council and European Commission. Conspicuously uninvited were Russia and Belarus.)

IAEA demands Russian exit from Zaporizhzhia

September 16, 2022, 9:29AMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors has adopted a resolution calling for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. According to a report from Reuters, the 35-member board voted 26–2 yesterday in favor of the resolution, with seven abstentions. The two “no” votes were cast, unsurprisingly, by Russia and China, while abstentions came from Burundi, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

Zaporizhzhia update

September 9, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi (at right) inspects damage at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia plant on September 1. (Photo: Fredrik Dahl/IAEA)

At this writing, the situation at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is as fraught with tension as ever, despite an International Atomic Energy Agency support and assistance mission to the site last week led by director general Rafael Mariano Grossi.

IAEA mission to Zaporizhzhia finally launched

August 30, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi (center) with his team of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards experts at the Vienna International Airport on August 29, prior to their departure for Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)

After months of urgent entreaties to both the Ukrainian and Russian governments to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi yesterday set off for the facility, accompanied by a team of nuclear security, safety, and safeguards experts.

Zaporizhzhia-5 and -6 disconnected from grid

August 25, 2022, 4:29PMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia plant (Image: Energoatom)

Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear plant operator, is reporting that Units 5 and 6 at the Zaporizhzhia plant—currently the facility’s only operational reactors—were disconnected from the country’s power grid early in the morning of August 25.

The Zaporizhzhia site has been under the control of the Russian military since March 4, just days after Russia commenced its invasion of Ukraine.

Update on Ukraine

August 22, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Ralf1969, Wikimedia Commons)

The latest news on Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—under occupation by the Russian military since early March—sparks some hope, but also more anxiety.

The good: This morning, Russia requested that the United Nations Security Council hold a meeting tomorrow on the situation at the six-unit pressurized water reactor plant, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian state-owned news agency. The RIA report cited a post via the Telegram messaging app from Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s first deputy minister at the UN. In the post, Polyansky said the meeting is scheduled for “22:00 Moscow time on August 23.”

Westinghouse offers internships for Ukrainian nuclear professionals and students

August 8, 2022, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe
Artist’s rendering of the Westinghouse Electric AP1000 modular reactor. (Image: Westinghouse)

New and immersive internship and development opportunities are being offered through a partnership of Westinghouse Electric Company and the Ukrainian nuclear energy utility Energoatom. Beginning this autumn, more than 60 opportunities will be available for Ukrainian nuclear energy professionals and graduate-level students.

Safety concerns grow regarding Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

August 5, 2022, 6:50AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Concerns regarding the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in war-torn Ukraine have been heightened in recent weeks, with reports of Russian forces using the gigantic facility as a cover from which to launch artillery attacks on Ukrainian forces. On Tuesday, Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, appealed to both Ukraine and Russia to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the plant to examine its condition, make any necessary repairs, and ensure that its nuclear material is being appropriately safeguarded. Grossi said that the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear plant, in which, according to various reports, either two or three of six reactors are currently operating, is “completely out of control” and that the plant’s equipment supply chain has been interrupted.

The American Nuclear Society calls for removal of Russian missiles from Ukraine nuclear power plant

August 3, 2022, 7:01AMPress Releases

Statement from American Nuclear Society President Steven Arndt:

"As an organization dedicated to the use of nuclear technology for the societal good, the American Nuclear Society opposes the misuse of nuclear power plants as shields for military operations.

Belgium advances plan to extend operations at Doel, Tihange

July 27, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium along with the De Molen windmill in foreground. (Photo: Trougnouf)

The Belgian government has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Electrabel, a subsidiary of the French utility Engie, to keep nuclear a part of Belgium’s energy mix for an additional 10 years.

Electrabel operates Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, the four-unit Doel and three-unit Tihange.

AP1000 plant license process in Ukraine advances

July 20, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
(Photo: Energoatom)

Westinghouse has signed a new contract with Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear utility, to provide technical information in support of Energoatom’s feasibility study update for the construction of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The contract, according to Westinghouse’s announcement, advances the previously signed agreement between Westinghouse and Energoatom for the construction of two of the Generation III+ reactors at Khmelnytskyi Units 5 and 6.

Poll: Finns favor fission at record level

May 24, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News

The Finnish public’s support for nuclear power is at an all-time high, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by Kantar Public, a London-based consulting and research firm.

Commissioned by Finnish Energy—the trade association for Finland’s energy sector—the poll finds that 60 percent of respondents have either a “fully positive” or “mainly positive” perception of nuclear power as an energy source (34 percent and 26 percent, respectively), up from 49 percent in a 2021 Kantar poll.