Decontamination and Decommissioning

Demolition begins on high-risk contaminated Y-12 building

June 1, 2022, 3:01PMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition crews remove some of the auxiliary structures surrounding the main building of the Criticality Experiment Laboratory on the Oak Ridge Reservation. (Photo: DOE)

A contractor for the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) started tearing down a 1940s-era facility in May at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Demolition of the former Criticality Experiment Laboratory, also known as Building 9213, is the latest project by EM to address a large inventory of high-risk excess contaminated facilities at the Oak Ridge Reservation.

DOE issues final RFPs for Portsmouth, Paducah contracts

May 31, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) last week began accepting bids for the contract to manage the Portsmouth site in Ohio and Paducah site in Kentucky, where the former uranium enrichment plants are being decommissioned and remediated.

The final request for proposals for the Portsmouth Paducah Project Office’s Operations and Site Mission Support (OSMS) contract were issued by EM on March 25. The new contract, which has an estimated value of $2.9 billion over the 10-year performance period, will replace an existing contract currently held by Mid-America Conversion Services.

ANS responds to NRC’s proposed amendments on decommissioning regulations

May 25, 2022, 12:01PMANS News

ANS President Steven P. Nesbit has submitted comments to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, on behalf of the Society, regarding the commission’s proposed amendments to regulations on the decommissioning of production and utilization facilities. The NRC’s proposed regulatory changes address numerous areas, including emergency preparedness, physical security, cybersecurity, irradiated fuel management, decommissioning funding assurance, environmental considerations, low-level waste transportation, spent fuel management planning, and drug and alcohol testing.

NRC extends public comment period on decommissioning rule

May 19, 2022, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the deadline for comments on its new decommissioning rulemaking until August 30. The proposed rule, which would amend NRC regulations pertaining to nuclear facilities transitioning to decommissioning, was first published in the Federal Register on March 3 with deadline for comments of May 17.

NRC schedules public meetings on D&D rulemaking

April 7, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has announced that it will hold public meetings this month to present its proposed regulations for nuclear power plants transitioning from operating status to decommissioning.

The meetings will be held on April 12 in Chicago, April 19 in Atlanta, and April 21 in Plymouth, Mass. The meetings will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. local time and will include an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions. Those unable to attend in person can participate via Microsoft Teams. Details on meeting venues and virtual participation are provided in the public meeting notices at the above links.

U.K. develops robotic system for Dounreay D&D

April 6, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
A robot called Lyra was used to survey an underground radioactive ventilation duct in Dounreay’s redundant laboratories. (Photo: NDA)

Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. (DSRL) and the Robotics and Artificial Intelligence in Nuclear (RAIN) Hub, a consortium of universities led by the University of Manchester, are working together on the development of robots capable of accessing areas that are inaccessible or unsafe for humans to work in. The robots will be used to inspect and characterize Dounreay’s laboratories, buildings, and structures as the United Kingdom prepares to decontaminate and decommission the nuclear site.

NRC approves Kewaunee license transfer to EnergySolutions for decommissioning

April 5, 2022, 6:58AMRadwaste Solutions
The Kewaunee nuclear power plant in Carlton, Wis.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the operating license of the shutdown Kewaunee nuclear power plant from Dominion Energy to EnergySolutions. The transfer, which includes the general license for the Wisconsin site’s spent fuel storage facility, is contingent upon approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

EnergySolutions entered into an agreement with Dominion in May 2021 to acquire the Kewaunee site for decommissioning.

EnergySolutions and RSCS team up to decommission NS Savannah

March 31, 2022, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
NS Savannah at Pier 13 in Baltimore, Md., in 2012.

Utah-based EnergySolutions is joining Radiation Safety and Control Services (RSCS) in the decommissioning of NS Savannah, the world’s first nuclear-powered merchant ship, currently berthed at the Port of Baltimore in Maryland. EnergySolutions announced on March 29 that a joint venture of the two companies, Nuclear Ship Support Services, is conducting the final phases of decommissioning the ship’s reactor, which was defueled in 1975 but remains in place.

Holtec and Hyundai to cooperate on D&D projects

March 30, 2022, 3:07PMRadwaste Solutions
Holtec president and chief executive officer Kris Singh (left) and Hyundai E&C president and CEO Yoon Young-Joon at the teaming agreement signing ceremony. (Photo: Holtec)

Holtec International and Hyundai Engineering & Construction have signed an agreement to cooperate in the area of nuclear plant decontamination and decommissioning.

Under the teaming agreement, Hyundai E&C will participate in D&D activities at Holtec-owned decommissioning sites in the United States to build its capabilities and experience in preparation for decommissioning projects in South Korea, which will be undertaken by the two companies. The agreement also provides for the two companies to further expand their cooperation internationally.

The Nuclear Communities Forum is coming soon

March 21, 2022, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Smart Growth America—in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations, the Center for Creative Land Recycling, and the Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative—is hosting a webinar titled “Nuclear Communities Forum 2022” on Friday, April 1, from 11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. (EDT).

Register now. The webinar is free and open to all.

Hanford K East Reactor cocooning project taking shape

March 8, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendering of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Photo: DOE)

Preparations are being made to enclose, or “cocoon,” the K East Reactor, the seventh of nine former reactors at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. The cocooning project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Watch this video for more on the project.

NRC releases proposed decommissioning rule for public comment

March 4, 2022, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission published its proposed decommissioning rule in the March 3 Federal Register, opening a 75-day public comment period. Approved by the NRC in November 2021, the proposed rule would incorporate lessons learned from plants that have recently transitioned to decontamination and decommissioning and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory framework.

D&D of USS Nautilus prototype reactor to begin in 2023

February 14, 2022, 3:04PMRadwaste Solutions
The interior of the Submarine 1st Generation Westinghouse prototype, located at the Naval Reactors Facility on the INL site, circa mid-1950s. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) announced on February 10 that it is set to deactivate and demolish the prototype for the reactor used for the USS Nautilus, the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine and the first submarine to complete a submerged transit of the North Pole.

NRC denies petition to revise decommissioning rules

February 9, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied a petition for rulemaking, filed in February 2019 by Gerard P. Van Noordennen on behalf of EnergySolutions, requesting that the agency revise its regulations to allow licensees access to a nuclear power plant’s decommissioning trust fund to pay for the disposal of major radioactive components before the plant permanently ceases operations and begins decommissioning.

“Major radioactive components” refers to the reactor vessel and internals, steam generators, pressurizers, large bore reactor coolant system piping, and other large components.

Oak Ridge project team honored with Achievement Award

January 13, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Oak Ridge before-and-after views: At left is the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant when it was closed in the late 1980s, and at right is a view of the site today, known as the East Tennessee Technology Park. (Photo: DOE)

Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm honored a Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (EM) team from Oak Ridge with the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award during a virtual ceremony yesterday for successfully removing a former uranium enrichment complex. The project cleared 13 million square feet of deteriorated, contaminated structures from the site.

NRC approves transfer of Palisades, Big Rock Point to Holtec for decommissioning

December 14, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
The Palisades power plant, in Covert Township, Mich.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the transfer of the Palisades nuclear power plant licenses from Entergy Nuclear Operations to Holtec International, as owner, and Holtec Decommissioning International (HDI), as decommissioning operator. Holtec and HDI intend to decommission the single-unit pressurized water reactor, located in Covert, Mich., under an accelerated schedule.

Proposed D&D rule expected to be published in early 2022, NRC says

December 10, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects to publish its proposed rulemaking for nuclear power reactors transitioning to decontamination and decommissioning in early 2022, according to Patricia Holahan, director of the NRC’s Division of Decommissioning, Uranium Recovery, and Waste Programs. Holahan spoke during the December 1 opening plenary session of the topical meeting, Decommissioning, Environmental Science and Remote Technology 2021, held in conjunction with the 2021 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo.

On November 3, the NRC commissioners approved the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register, subject to edits and comments by the commissioners. According to Holahan, who also serves as special assistant to the director of the NRC’s Division of Rulemaking, Environmental, and Financial Support, the NRC staff will incorporate the commission-directed changes into the proposed rule before it is published in the FR. The new rule is intended to make the decommissioning process more efficient by reducing the need for license exemptions and amendments.

Last remaining support building at West Valley’s Main Plant set to come down

December 10, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Crews take down the Load-In Facility at the West Valley Demonstration Project. The demolition is scheduled for completion early next year. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is set to complete the 69th building demolition at the West Valley Demonstration Project early next year, when crews finish knocking down the last structure standing that supported operations at the former Main Plant Process Building.

At Senate hearing, Markey attacks, Hanson defends

December 8, 2021, 9:36AMANS Nuclear Cafe


At an otherwise congenial Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight hearing held last week by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) made clear his strong disagreement with the agency’s November 3 decision to approve a proposed rule amending regulations for nuclear plants undergoing decommissioning.

“I fear the NRC now stands for Not Recognizing Concerns,” Markey said. “The NRC has decided that the best way to shield itself from criticism around the decommissioning process is to take itself out of the process. In the latest version of the proposed decommissioning rule, the NRC would have no ability to approve, no ability to change, no ability to deny plants’ decommissioning proposals, known as post-shutdown decommissioning activities reports. Its only job would be to acknowledge receipt of the report. Our independent nuclear safety regulator would serve as a glorified filing cabinet. Ceding the job of regulator to the nuclear industry itself is not a win for safety, communities, or for the energy sector.”

Maximizing decommissioning lessons learned

December 7, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear NewsLarry W. Camper

Larry W. Camper

The track record for the successful decommissioning of nuclear facilities, both nationally and internationally, is impressive. In the United States, we have decommissioned many nuclear facilities, including complex materials sites, uranium recovery sites, research and test reactors, and nuclear power plants. To date, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 10 nuclear power plants have been completely decommissioned for unrestricted use, and another 26 power reactor sites are currently undergoing decommissioning through either SAFSTOR or DECON, following NRC regulatory requirements. In addition, the Nuclear Energy Institute identifies three nuclear power plants that were successfully decommissioned outside of NRC jurisdiction. While such a track record is impressive, the nuclear industry must be vigilant in focusing on lessons learned in order to continue to make gains in efficiency, cost savings, improved environmental stewardship, and enhanced stakeholder confidence. In reviewing the outcomes of decommissioning over many years, a number of key lessons learned have emerged.