Draft proposal includes nuclear in EU taxonomy

January 5, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

France and other pronuclear European Union members appear to be winning the argument with their antinuclear neighbors—Germany, most prominently—regarding whether to add nuclear energy to the EU taxonomy, the classification system used to direct investments toward environmentally sustainable economic projects.

On January 1, the European Commission released a 60-page draft proposal that includes nuclear and natural gas in the taxonomy. Also, in a related press release, the EC said that it has begun consultations with EU members “on a draft text of a Taxonomy Complementary Delegated Act covering certain gas and nuclear activities.”

DOE affirms its interpretation of high-level waste

December 22, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

With a notice published in the December 21 Federal Register, the Department of Energy has affirmed its interpretation of the statutory term “high-level radioactive waste” to mean that not all wastes from the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel are HLW. The DOE said it interprets the statutory term such that some reprocessing wastes may be classified as non-HLW and may be safely disposed of in accordance with its radiological characteristics.

DOE resumes consent-based siting process for spent fuel storage

December 1, 2021, 12:03PMRadwaste Solutions
Spent fuel in dry cask storage at the closed Kewaunee nuclear power plant. (Photo: NAC International)

The Department of Energy has restarted its consent-based siting process for identifying sites to store the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. Yesterday, the DOE issued a request for information that “will be used to further develop DOE’s consent-based siting process and overall waste management strategy in an equitable way.”

DOE begins commissioning of Hanford’s WTP

November 30, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Electrician Ralph Bisla conducts tests of the finishing line inside Hanford’s WTP Low-Activity Waste Facility. (Photo: DOE)

Having completed all startup testing of components and systems, the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash., has moved to the commissioning phase, the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced last week. During the commissioning phase, the final steps will be taken to prepare for the vitrification of radioactive and chemical waste as part of Hanford’s Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program.

DOE looks to dispose of Hanford tank waste as LLW

November 9, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews pump waste from Hanford’s single-shell tanks to more stable double-shell tanks. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy is considering solidifying 2,000 gallons of Hanford’s tank waste and disposing of it as low-level radioactive waste at an off-site facility. A virtual public meeting on the proposed disposal plan is scheduled for November 18.

Mega-volume disposal unit to begin operation at Savannah River Site

November 9, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
DOE liquid waste contractor Savannah River Remediation is moving forward with Saltstone Disposal Unit projects to support the Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has authorized the use of a second mega-volume saltstone disposal unit (SDU) at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Savannah River Remediation (SRR), EM’s liquid waste contractor at SRS, received Critical Decision-4 for Saltstone Disposal Unit 7, marking the final step in the approval process before beginning operations.

Decommissioning San Onofre

November 5, 2021, 3:37PMNuclear NewsJohn Dobken

Imagine it’s January 1998. A specially equipped train from the Department of Energy rolls up to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to pick up spent nuclear fuel and take it to the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. This scene is repeated thousands of times at nuclear plant sites across the U.S. over the ensuing decades. The solution to permanent spent fuel disposal as outlined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (and its amendments) is working as intended. The nation’s commercial spent fuel is safely isolated deep underground for the long term.

But that is not what happened. Work on Yucca Mountain has been stalled for a full decade, and the organization within the DOE that by law is responsible for managing the spent fuel program has been defunded and disbanded.

NWMO, University of Guelph to use eDNA to track host site biodiversity

October 27, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
Research teams from the NWMO and the University of Guelph conduct eDNA sampling in the Ignace area of Ontario, Canada. (Photo: NWMO)

Canada’s Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) is working with the University of Guelph to launch a joint environmental DNA (eDNA) research program to further understand biodiversity conditions around two potential sites in Ontario for a deep geological repository for spent nuclear fuel.

Moab cleanup reaches milestone

October 27, 2021, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Sealed steel containers of uranium mill tailings are loaded onto railcars at the DOE’s Moab Site in preparation for transport to the Crescent Junction disposal cell. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced that it has accomplished another of its 2021 priorities by permanently disposing of a cumulative 12 million tons of uranium mill tailings from the Moab Site in Utah. The announcement, made on October 26, follows last week’s report by EM that it has shipped more than 1 million tons of tailings for disposal in fiscal year 2021, which ended on September 30, the largest annual amount since FY 2012.

RFP issued for Hanford’s integrated tank disposition contract

October 25, 2021, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, also known as the Vit Plant. (Photo: Bechtel National)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has issued a final request for proposal (RFP) for the Hanford Integrated Tank Disposition Contract, a 10-year, $45 billion deal to oversee waste tank operations at the DOE’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. Proposals are due by December 20.

Animation depicts Hanford’s direct-feed waste treatment process

October 20, 2021, 12:09PMRadwaste Solutions
A screen shot from Hanford’s DFLAW animation. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has released an animated video of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Program at the Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. The video shows the integrated procedure for treating Hanford’s radioactive tank waste, a process EM says is a key component of its strategic cleanup vision.

View the animation here.

Canada and South Korea to cooperate on spent fuel research

October 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
In a virtual ceremony, CNL and KHNP signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on spent CANDU fuel research. (Image: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) intend to leverage data collected over decades on the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel to help inform decision-making on future spent fuel storage, transportation, and disposal activities.

Final hot cell at former Oak Ridge lab prepared for demolition

October 14, 2021, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
A view of the final remaining hot cell at the former Radioisotope Development Laboratory at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as it is prepared for demolition. (Photo: DOE)

Using a specialized radiation detector, Department of Energy cleanup contractor UCOR is characterizing a hot cell at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in preparation for its demolition. The detector overlays a radiation-intensity color-map on a picture of the environment and identifies gamma-emitting nuclides and their locations.

DOE completes mining of WIPP’s Panel 8

October 14, 2021, 7:04AMRadwaste Solutions
An electric continuous miner machine chews through the last wall of salt in Panel 8’s Room 7 of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to complete the rough cut of the panel. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management this week announced that after seven years, mining of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant’s Panel 8 is finished. Created from an ancient salt formation 2,150 feet below the surface, Panel 8’s seven emplacement rooms are the next destination for transuranic waste brought to WIPP from DOE sites throughout the country.

Radiation-mapping robots deployed at Chernobyl

October 13, 2021, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Inside the New Safe Confinement covering the sarcophagus of Chernobyl’s Unit 4. (Photo: SSE Chornobyl NPP)

A team of scientists from the United Kingdom’s University of Bristol were given access to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, advancing a project to train robots and artificial intelligence systems to measure radiation and create 3D maps.

A slideshow of the team’s visit to Chernobyl’s Unit 4 control room and New Safe Confinement structure, where they deployed radiation mapping and scanning sensors, including a LIDAR-equipped robot call Rooster, appears on Gizmodo.

Washington, Oregon receive over $33 million in Hanford assistance grants

October 7, 2021, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
Nitya Chandran, a facility engineer with the Washington State Department of Ecology, inspects Hanford’s tank-side cesium removal system. (Photo: DOE)

Washington state and Oregon will receive approximately $33.5 million through four financial assistance grants from the Department of Energy to fund programs related to the cleanup of the department’s Hanford Site near Richland, Wash. The grants will support environmental response regulatory activities, emergency preparedness, and public information programs in the two states.

All four grants, which were noncompetitively awarded, are for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

DOE expands HLW canister double-stacking at Savannah River Site

October 5, 2021, 12:06PMRadwaste Solutions
Savannah River Remediation workers double-stack HLW canisters in an underground vault in Savannah River’s Glass Waste Storage Building 2 using a one-of-a-kind shielded canister transporter. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) has demonstrated the capability to expand the double-stacking of high-level waste canisters at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. That approach will save the site’s cleanup program millions of dollars, according to the DOE.

DOE demolishes last of ETEC buildings at California’s Santa Susana site

October 5, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Sodium Pump Test Facility was the last DOE building to be demolished at the Energy Technology Engineering Center site in California. (Photo: DOE)

The demolition of the final of 18 DOE-owned buildings at the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) has been completed, according to the DOE. The ETEC is the former liquid metals research facility located at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), northwest of Los Angeles.

Markey, Levin introduce spent fuel legislation

September 30, 2021, 7:02AMRadwaste Solutions



Sen. Edward J. Markey (D., Mass.) and Rep. Mike Levin (D., Calif.) have introduced the Nuclear Waste Task Force Act. The legislation is intended to establish a new task force to consider the implications of amending the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 to remove exemptions from environmental laws for nuclear waste. Eliminating this loophole could help enable consent-based siting of long-term storage solutions for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, the lawmakers said.

Intended to continue the work of 2012's Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, the task force would also be responsible for providing a clear explanation of what constitutes “consent-based siting.”

GAO urges Congress to address spent fuel stalemate

September 28, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Spent nuclear fuel in dry storage at the decommissioned Zion nuclear power plant in Illinois.

Congress needs to take action to break the impasse over a permanent solution for commercial spent nuclear fuel, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The GAO recommends that Congress amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) to authorize a new consent-based siting process, restructure the Nuclear Waste Fund, and direct the Department of Energy to develop and implement an integrated waste management strategy.

The GAO also recommends that the DOE finalize the consent-based process it began in 2015 for siting consolidated interim storage and permanent geologic repository facilities. The DOE agrees with that recommendation.