Power & Operations

First criticality reached at Vogtle-3

March 7, 2023, 7:00AMNuclear News
Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear power plant has achieved initial criticality, Georgia Power announced yesterday. A key milestone on the way to the reactor’s commercial operation, initial criticality demonstrates that operators have safely started, for the first time, the nuclear reaction inside the unit. (Fuel loading at Vogtle-3 began last October.)

NRC grants “timely renewal” exemption for Diablo Canyon

March 3, 2023, 10:31AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has granted Pacific Gas & Electric a “timely renewal” exemption so the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant can continue operating while its license renewal application is under review, it was announced yesterday. This new decision clears a major regulatory hurdle to extending the operating license of the Units 1 and 2 beyond their original closure dates of 2024 and 2025, respectively.

Measure to repeal Illinois nuclear construction ban advances

March 2, 2023, 3:13PMNuclear News


A bipartisan effort in the Illinois General Assembly to repeal the state’s decades-old prohibition on new nuclear plant construction made some progress this week when the House Public Utilities Committee voted 18–3 to advance a bill lifting the ban.

Introduced on January 12 by Rep. Mark Walker (D., 53rd Dist.)—who sponsored identical legislation last year—H.B. 1079 would delete language in the Illinois Public Utilities Act that prohibits nuclear plant construction in the state “until the director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency finds that the United States government, through its authorized agency, has identified and approved a demonstrable technology or means for the disposal of high-level nuclear waste, or until such construction has been specifically approved by a statute enacted by the General Assembly.” The bill has 31 cosponsors—four Democrats and 27 Republicans.

Joint licensing process for Westinghouse microreactor begins

February 28, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A rendering of an eVinci microreactor facility. (Image: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company has filed a notice of intent to submit key licensing reports for its eVinci microreactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for joint review, the firm announced last week. (The two nuclear regulators signed a memorandum of cooperation in August 2019 to increase collaboration on the technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.)

Barakah-3 enters commercial service

February 27, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
Barakah-3 (Photo: ENEC)

Three up, one to go: The third of four Korean-designed APR-1400 reactors at the United Arab Emirates’ Barakah nuclear power plant has begun commercial operation, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) announced on February 24.

Poland, Westinghouse further solidify plans for AP1000 construction

February 24, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
From left, Westinghouse Energy Systems president David Durham, Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe president Tomasz Stępień, and Westinghouse Poland president Mirosław Kowalik sign a contract on February 22 to advance Poland’s nascent nuclear energy program. (Photo: Westinghouse Electric Company)

State-owned Polish utility Polskie Electrownie Jądrowe and U.S.-based Westinghouse on February 22 moved a step closer to their end goal—the deployment of multiple AP1000 reactors in Poland—with the signing of a contract covering front-end engineering, early procurement work, and program development.

IAEA issues report on nuclear safety and security in Ukraine

February 24, 2023, 6:16AMANS Nuclear Cafe
The IAEA team of of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards experts inspecting damage last year at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)

As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, the International Atomic Energy Agency has released Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine, an overview of the conflict’s impact on the beleaguered nation’s nuclear facilities and of the agency’s actions to lessen the likelihood of a nuclear accident.

Loviisa approved for operation to 2050

February 23, 2023, 3:02PMNuclear News
The Loviisa nuclear power plant. (Photo: Fortum)

The Finnish government on February 16 granted a new operating license to Fortum Power and Heat Oy for its two Loviisa reactors—twin 507-MWe VVER-440/V213 units—providing them with an additional 20 years of operational life.

Constellation to make major investment in two Illinois plants

February 23, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Braidwood (left) and Byron nuclear power plants. (Photos: Constellation Energy)

Constellation Energy has announced that it intends to invest $800 million in new equipment at the Braidwood and Byron nuclear plants in Illinois to raise their combined output by a total of about 135 MW.

TVA unit begins outage after record run

February 22, 2023, 9:31AMNuclear News
Browns Ferry: A breaker-to-breaker run. (Photo: NRC)

The Tennessee Valley Authority took Browns Ferry-2 off line February 17 for a refueling and maintenance outage, following a nearly two-year, breaker-to-breaker run—the first in the Alabama nuclear plant’s history.

According to the utility, the unit established a new record for itself with 665 days of continuous operation, producing more than 20 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Further delays, higher cost for Vogtle project announced

February 17, 2023, 2:37PMNuclear News
Vogtle Unit 3, in January. (Photo: Georgia Power)

Already for the second time this year, Southern Company has announced a delay to the expected commercial operation of Unit 3 at the Vogtle nuclear plant’s two-unit construction site. In addition, a delay to Unit 4’s startup is also possible, Southern said.

Correction: Nuclear removed from Va. energy fund bill

February 16, 2023, 7:37AMNuclear News


Nuclear Newswire erroneously reported this morning that the Virginia Senate’s Finance and Appropriations Committee on February 15 advanced legislation that included nuclear in a list of energy technologies that would receive research and development funding through a Virginia Power Innovation Fund. In fact, the bill, H.B. 2386, was approved after the committee had stripped nuclear from the list. NN regrets the error.

Following the finance panel’s vote, Del. Israel O’Quinn (R., 5th Dist.), the bill’s sponsor, expressed his disappointment. “The knee-jerk opposition to nuclear innovation is very short-sighted and puts Virginia behind the curve on energy diversification,” he said. “Nuclear energy is inevitably going to have to be a bigger part of Virginia’s energy portfolio. It produces zero carbon and is highly reliable.”

River Bend begins its 22nd refueling outage

February 15, 2023, 3:10PMNuclear News
The River Bend nuclear power plant. (Photo: Entergy)

Entergy’s River Bend nuclear power plant started its 22nd scheduled refueling and maintenance outage on February 11. The plant, located in St. Francisville, La., is a 967-MWe General Electric boiling water reactor.

Belgium mulls life extension for more reactors

February 8, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
Belgium's Doel nuclear power plant. (Photo: N. Hippert/IAEA)

The Belgian government is exploring the idea of extending the operational life of its three oldest reactors by two years, a variety of news outlets are reporting.

Those reactors—Units 1 and 2 at the Doel facility and Unit 1 at Tihange, sporting a combined capacity of 1,852 MWe—were slated to be permanently shuttered in 2025 in keeping with the country’s nuclear phase-out policy.

X-energy, Alberta explore opportunities to support SMR projects

February 7, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

X-energy Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. mall modular reactor and fuel technology company X-energy, has signed a memorandum of understanding with Invest Alberta Corporation (IAC) to develop economic opportunities in support of the potential deployment of the Xe-100 SMR in the western Canadian province. (Alberta is one of four provinces behind last year’s A Strategic Plan for the Deployment of SMRs—a document that maps the path to capitalizing on the benefits of advanced reactor deployment.)

German public supports nuclear power

February 6, 2023, 7:01AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A new survey by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) indicates that 71 percent of the German public supports the continued use of nuclear energy in the country, while 29 percent want it ended. The survey results, which were reported by German news source Bild and elsewhere, come amid ongoing controversy regarding the current plans by the German government to shut down the nation’s three remaining nuclear power plants in mid-April.

Nuclear regulator greenlights life extension for Loviisa reactors

February 3, 2023, 12:01PMNuclear News
The Loviisa nuclear power plant. (Photo: Fortum)

Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) recently provided the country’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment with a positive safety review of the Loviisa reactors, bringing the plant closer to an approval for operation to 2050.

Belgium’s nuclear phase-out policy claims second victim

February 2, 2023, 10:34AMNuclear News
The Tihange nuclear power plant. (Photo: Engie Electrabel)

Unit 2 at Tihange, one of Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, was permanently disconnected from the grid late on the evening (local time) of January 31, operator Engie Electrabel has announced.

The 1,008-MWe pressurized water reactor is the second unit in Belgium’s nuclear reactor fleet to be retired in accordance with the country’s 20-year-old law mandating a gradual phase-out of nuclear power. The first Belgian unit to be retired, Doel-3, a 1,006-MWe PWR, was shut down on September 23, 2022. Remaining in operation are Doel-1, -2, and -4 and Tihange-1 and -3.

Northern States Power applies for Monticello SLR

February 1, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Xcel Energy’s Monticello plant.