Implementation of advanced PRIME fuel features

October 17, 2023, 9:42AMNuclear NewsVictoria Fitz, Bradley Balltrip, Matthew Leonard, Matthew Lynch, and Raymond Flanery

Operating costs for nuclear units have grown significantly since the start of the commercial nuclear power industry. For nuclear power generation to remain competitive, process efficiencies and innovations will need to be introduced. The challenge for any change is to improve the safe operation of the nuclear unit. An area of opportunity to reduce operating costs while improving operational safety is through upgraded fuel design and manufacturing. At Southern Nuclear, the pressurized water reactor fuel engineering team worked with Westinghouse to implement the PRIME fuel features, where simple improvements would yield safer operation and long-term cost-savings due to a more robust fuel design. Implementing the PRIME fuel ensures that the operator’s burden from fuel performance is minimized while keeping the reactor unit in a safe operating condition.

Georgia Power to pay Vogtle co-owner for project cost overruns

October 9, 2023, 3:04PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 (on left) and 4, in August. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power, primary owner of the Vogtle nuclear plant, announced last Friday that it will pay $413 million to settle a lawsuit brought against it last year by plant co-owner Oglethorpe Power Corporation.

Vogtle-2 okayed for ATF enriched to 6 percent

October 2, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear News

Southern Nuclear last Friday announced that its Vogtle Unit 2 reactor has become the first U.S. commercial reactor to be authorized by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to use accident tolerant fuel exceeding 5 percent uranium-235 enrichment.

Georgia Power, PSC staff reach deal on Vogtle project recovery costs

September 5, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left: Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in July. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has signed a proposed agreement with the Georgia Public Service Commission’s (PSC’s) Public Interest Advocacy (PIA) staff and several intervening parties on the total amount the utility should be allowed to recover from ratepayers for the remaining costs associated with the Vogtle-3 and -4 nuclear expansion project. If adopted by the commissioners, the agreement will resolve all issues of the project’s prudency review, according to an August 30 PSC news release.

Vogtle-4 fuel load started

August 18, 2023, 12:58PMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 reactor cavity in July. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has begun the process of loading fuel into the Vogtle plant’s Unit 4 reactor, the company announced yesterday, marking another pivotal milestone toward commercial operation of the second of the facility’s two new units.

Vogtle-3 begins commercial operation

July 31, 2023, 12:39PMNuclear News
Vogtle-3 (Photo: Georgia Power)

To the ears of the nuclear community, the news from Georgia Power this morning may sound a bit like “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Ninth: After years of delay, Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has entered commercial operation, becoming the first newly constructed power reactor in the United States in more than 30 years and the nation’s first Westinghouse-supplied Generation III+ AP1000 unit to be placed into service. The new unit joins Vogtle-1 and -2—1,169-MWe four-loop pressurized water reactors that entered commercial operation in the late 1980s.

Southern Nuclear given go-ahead for Vogtle-4 fuel load

July 31, 2023, 10:41AMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 control room. (Photo: Georgia Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has authorized Southern Nuclear Operating Company to begin loading fuel into Unit 4 at the Vogtle nuclear expansion site near Waynesboro, Ga., making the unit the second reactor to reach this milestone in the agency’s combined license process—a little less than one year after Vogtle-3. (Prior to 1989, reactors were licensed under a two-step process, requiring both a construction permit and an operating license.)

All ITAACs for Vogtle-4 completed

July 24, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Vogtle’s Unit 4 reactor in June. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Southern Nuclear, operator of Georgia’s Vogtle plant, has informed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that all 364 inspections, tests, and analyses for Unit 4 have been performed, and all acceptance criteria for the new reactor have been met. Primary plant owner Georgia Power made the announcement last Friday.

U.S., Polish nuclear regulators renew pact

June 29, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
From left, NRC chair Christopher Hanson and PAA president Andrzej Głowacki sign a cooperation agreement in Washington, D.C. (Photo: PAA)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Poland’s National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA) have renewed their cooperation agreement for the next five years.

ANS annual meeting: “Failure is not an option”

June 12, 2023, 3:37PMANS News


The American Nuclear Society’s annual meeting opened on Sunday, June 11, in Indianapolis, Ind., and will run through June 14. The meeting’s theme is “Failure Is Not an Option.”

ANS president Steven Arndt, who ends his yearlong term at the meeting’s end, addressed the audience at the opening plenary on Monday, June 12, noting that nuclear science and technology’s road has been long, but it is up to ANS members and other advocates to push forward the nuclear enterprise’s momentum for a sustainable future.

Before announcing ANS chief executive officer and executive director Craig Piercy to the stage, Arndt thanked the volunteer members, meeting sponsors, and ANS staff, among others, for making ANS meetings happen.

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.

Westinghouse, Fortum to study SMRs in Finland, Sweden

June 8, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News

Representatives of Westinghouse and Fortum sign MOUs in Helsinki, Finland, on June 7. From left are Laurent Leveugle, vice president of new nuclear at Fortum; Petra Lundström, executive vice president of nuclear generation at Fortum; Elias Gedeon, senior vice president of commercial operations at Westinghouse; and Roman Romanowski, vice president of new plant market development at Westinghouse. (Photo: Westinghouse).

Looking to add Finland and Sweden to its growing list of potential reactor customers in Europe, Westinghouse Electric Company on June 7 announced the signing of memoranda of understanding with Finnish state-owned energy company Fortum—operator of the two-unit Loviisa nuclear plant—to explore the possibilities of developing and deploying AP1000 and AP300 reactor projects in the two Nordic nations. The MOUs, according to Westinghouse, establish a framework of collaboration for detailed technical and commercial discussions.

Westinghouse submits AP300 regulatory engagement plan to NRC

May 15, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News
A cutaway depiction of the AP300 SMR. (Image: Westinghouse)

Just days after immediately achieving key-player status in the small modular reactor market with the unveiling of its AP300 SMR, Westinghouse Electric Company on May 9 announced the filing of the new unit’s preapplication regulatory engagement plan with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The plan outlines the preapplication activities Westinghouse intends to carry out with NRC staff to support the AP300’s licensing. According to the announcement, the plan documents the basic design philosophy of the technology, an overview of the proposed licensing approach, and a timeline for the planned preapplication interactions between the NRC and Westinghouse, with the goal of soliciting agency feedback on noteworthy topics.

Westinghouse unveils SMR version of AP1000

May 4, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News
Rendering of a Westinghouse AP300 plant. (Image: Westinghouse)

At a virtual press conference this morning, Westinghouse Electric Company president and chief executive officer Patrick Fragman announced the launch of the AP300 small modular reactor, a 300-MWe, 900-MWth single-loop pressurized water reactor based on the company’s larger AP1000 unit. Fragman was joined at the conference by David Durham, president of energy systems for Westinghouse, and Rita Baranwal, the firm’s chief technology officer. The company also released a short video introducing the AP300 on YouTube.

Hot functional testing completed at Vogtle-4

May 3, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Vogtle-4 turbine building in March. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Georgia Power has announced another key milestone for the Vogtle nuclear expansion project near Waynesboro, Ga.—the completion of hot functional testing at Unit 4. This achievement marks another significant step toward commercial operation for the Generation III+ AP1000 reactor, which is projected to enter service late in the fourth quarter 2023 or in the first quarter 2024.

NPR podcast highlights perspectives on nuclear energy

April 14, 2023, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Nuclear energy was the focus of a recent NPR 1A podcast episode, hosted by journalist Jenn White, who welcomed guests to discuss the role of nuclear energy in the future of the United States. The guests—Joe Dominguez, chief executive officer of Constellation Energy; Samantha Gross, director of the Energy Security and Climate Initiative at the Brookings Institution; and Edwin Lyman, director of Nuclear Power Safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists—participated in the episode, titled “Where Does Nuclear Energy Fit in a Carbon-Free Future?”

Vogtle-3 connects to grid

April 3, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Vogtle Units 3 and 4 in February. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has been successfully synchronized and connected to the electric grid, Georgia Power announced on April 1. The unit—one of two Westinghouse-supplied AP1000s at the Waynesboro, Ga., plant’s nuclear expansion site—becomes the first new U.S. power reactor to start up in seven years.