Reps. Levin, Davis form bipartisan caucus to tackle stranded spent fuel issue

July 26, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions



Hoping to drive progress on the safe storage, transportation, and disposal of spent nuclear fuel across the country, Reps. Mike Levin (D., Calif.) and Rodney Davis (R., Ill.) have formed the Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

According to Levin and Davis, the bipartisan caucus seeks to address the challenges associated with stranded commercial spent fuel across the country and serve as a forum where House members can come together to make headway on the issue, regardless of whether or not they have a preferred solution.

In announcing the formation of the caucus on July 21, Levin and Davis said that the current system of spent nuclear fuel storage is not sustainable, particularly for sites that no longer have operating reactors and could be redeveloped for other beneficial uses. They added that it is also a violation of the promise, codified by law, that the federal government would take title to the waste in return for ratepayers’ contributions to the Nuclear Waste Fund.

Radiation safety expert debunks three myths about nuclear waste

July 20, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Photo: University of Manchester (U.K.)

Nuclear waste should not be used as an excuse for trying to shut down nuclear reactors, says radiation safety expert Andrew Karam in his recent article for the American Council on Science and Health titled, “Let’s Talk about Radioactive Waste."

Backup battery system will keep Hanford’s waste melters from going cold

July 15, 2021, 6:31AMRadwaste Solutions
The DOE recently completed startup testing on the uninterruptable electrical power system for Hanford’s Low-Activity Waste Facility.

Department of Energy workers recently finished startup testing of a battery-powered backup electrical system for the Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. According to the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM), the uninterruptable electrical power system is vital to safeguarding the facility, part of Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, in the unlikely event of a temporary power loss to the plant.

Holtec to step up its production of spent fuel casks

July 13, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

A Holtec HI-STAR 150 cask being placed into storage at Cofrentes in Spain on June 23. (Photo: Holtec).

Holtec International is increasing the production of its HI-STAR casks for storing and transporting spent nuclear fuel following recent regulatory approvals and new orders in Europe. Earlier this month the company was awarded a contract by Spain’s waste management organization Enresa for 10 HI-STAR 150 casks, and Holtec is currently in the advanced stages of production of two HI-STAR 180D casks destined for the Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium, with additional orders pending.

The casks are being produced at Holtec’s manufacturing facilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Spain: Enresa initially awarded Holtec a contract in 2017 for the design, engineering, licensing, and manufacturing of five HI-STAR 150 casks for the Cofrentes nuclear power plant near Valencia. The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council signed off on the HI-STAR 150 design for storage in April of this year, and on May 23, Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge granted a license for the cask, which is designed to store up to 52 boiling water reactor spent fuel assemblies, including damaged fuel assemblies.

CBS’s 60 Minutes gets robot’s-eye view of Fukushima Daiichi

July 13, 2021, 6:59AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A look at Fukushima Daiichi today. (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

News programmers’ hunger for stories about the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that caused three reactor meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011 shows no signs of abating.

Waste management at Los Alamos’s PF-4 a continuing challenge

July 12, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Plutonium Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Photo: LANL)

The Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, which provides independent federal oversight of Department of Energy weapons facilities, has reported that low-level radioactive and other combustible waste is accumulating in the basement of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plutonium Facility (PF-4), and that housekeeping and waste management in the PF-4 basement have been a continuing challenge.

NRC decision on Holtec’s interim storage facility expected by January

July 8, 2021, 11:54AMRadwaste Solutions
An artist's rendering of the HI-STORE facility (Image: Holtec)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to complete its safety review of Holtec International’s proposed HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility by January 2022. A final licensing decision on the facility will be made in conjunction with the release of the agency’s final safety evaluation report, the NRC said in a July 2 letter to Holtec.

Savannah River doubles shifts for processing surplus Pu

July 8, 2021, 6:57AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of Savannah River’s K Area Complex, where plutonium downblending operations take place. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management has doubled the number of work shifts for employees in glove box operations at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The increased work pace will help the department meet its commitment to South Carolina to remove surplus plutonium from the state, the DOE said.

Geologists study Ignace, Ontario, as potential site for deep geologic repository

July 7, 2021, 7:17AMRadwaste Solutions
NWMO geologists study rock formations in the Ignace area of Ontario, Canada.

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization is studying the geology of the Ignace, Ontario, area to confirm its suitability as a site for a deep geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. Ignace is one of two areas the NWMO is investigating as possible host sites for a repository, with South Bruce, Ontario, being the second area.

NRC rejects challenges to TMI-2 license transfer, ISP’s license application

June 24, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has dismissed a challenge to the previously approved transfer of the license for the shuttered Three Mile Island-2 power reactor from FirstEnergy to a subsidiary of EnergySolutions for decommissioning. The order by the NRC commissioners denying the motion by Three Mile Island Alert to hold the license transfer in abeyance was issued on June 22.

IAEA issues report on Japan’s decommissioning program for R&D facilities

June 24, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions

Noting the challenges Japan will face in managing the nuclear waste that will be generated from decommissioning 79 of its nuclear research and development facilities, the International Atomic Energy Agency is recommending that the country prepare for delays in the development of disposal facilities and provide appropriate waste storage capacity for the interim period.

The recommendation was one of several that a team of IAEA experts provided to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency after reviewing the agency’s 70-year decommissioning program, called the “Back-End Roadmap,” and contained in the report, ARTEMIS Review of JAEA Back-End Roadmap, which was released on June 22,

NEA argues for circular approach to funding back end of nuclear fuel cycle

June 22, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

A report by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency proposes a new approach to assessing the financial adequacy for undertaking nuclear decontamination and decommissioning projects and high-level radioactive waste management.

With the world’s aging nuclear power reactors approaching the end of their planned operational lifetimes, the adequacy of funding for decommissioning and waste management increasingly commands the attention of decision makers, the NEA said.

SRS preps for dissolution of stainless-steel-clad spent fuel

June 21, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A train pushes a container full of old equipment from H Canyon to a Savannah River Site disposal facility to make way for a new spent nuclear fuel dissolving campaign. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is preparing for an upcoming campaign to dissolve stainless-steel-clad spent nuclear fuel at its Savannah River Site in South Carolina by installing a new dissolver and an additional double-sized tank for storing dissolved material.

2021 ANS Virtual Annual Meeting: Better TENORM regulations needed

June 15, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News

When it comes to technologically enhanced naturally occurring radioactive materials (TENORM) produced by the oil and gas industry, “regulations have not kept up with technology,” said the Environmental Protection Agency’s Philip Egidi during a panel session on the opening day of the 2021 ANS Annual Meeting.

Savannah River’s SWPF treats 1 million gallons of waste

June 10, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
A view of the Savannah River Site’s Salt Waste Processing Facility. (Photo: DOE)

The Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site has performed largely as expected, processing more than one million gallons of radioactive waste during its first eight months of operation, the DOE reported on June 8. The SWPF is being used to treat the majority of the site’s remaining liquid radioactive waste, generated from the production of nuclear materials.

Final stage of cleanup resumes at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant

June 7, 2021, 9:29AMRadwaste Solutions
A loaded waste container at the site of the former Plutonium Finishing Plant is surveyed to ensure that it is safe for transfer to Hanford’s on-site disposal facility. (Photo: DOE)

Final cleanup activities at the Hanford Site’s demolished Plutonium Finishing Plant have resumed following a pause in work prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Energy announced. Crews with the DOE’s Richland Operations Office and site contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company will remove, package, and dispose of rubble remaining from the demolition of the plant’s plutonium reclamation facility, which was torn down in 2017.

TRU Waste Solution inDRUM Treatment

May 27, 2021, 2:39PMSponsored ContentStudsvik

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DOE announces funding for advanced reactor fuel cycle and reprocessing R&D

May 21, 2021, 7:06AMNuclear News
This figure, included in the ONWARDS funding opportunity announcement, shows how ARPA-E R&D programs address different stages of advanced reactor development. (Figure: ARPA-E)

The Department of Energy has announced up to $40 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to conduct research and development into technologies for reprocessing and ultimately disposing of used nuclear fuel. The program, “Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems” (ONWARDS), announced on May 19, targets both open (once-through) and closed (reprocessing) fuel cycles to reduce the amount of waste produced from advanced reactors tenfold when compared to light water reactors.

Framatome helps advance use of robotics in nuclear D&D

May 19, 2021, 7:03AMRadwaste Solutions
Using Framatome’s technology, Germany’s VIRERO project is developing a robotic system for sorting and packaging radioactive waste. (Photo: Framatome)

Paving the way for increased automation in nuclear decontamination and decommissioning and waste management, French nuclear company Framatome announced that testing has confirmed the operation of its robotic systems for handling and sorting high-dose waste components.

Excavation of first deposition tunnels begins at Finnish repository

May 11, 2021, 4:11PMRadwaste Solutions
A deposition tunnel is excavated into bedrock at Finland’s Onkalo facility. (Photo: Posiva)

Posiva Oy, the company responsible for the disposal of Finland’s spent nuclear fuel, announced last week that it has begun excavating the first disposal tunnels at the Onkalo deep geologic repository near the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant.