NFS prepares for HEU oxide-to-metal conversion under contract from the NNSA

April 13, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, Tenn. (Photo: BWX Technologies)

BWX Technologies announced on April 10 that its Nuclear Fuel Services subsidiary in Erwin, Tenn., has been awarded a five-year, $428 million contract from the National Nuclear Security Administration to purify and convert high-enriched uranium (HEU) from an oxide to a metal. The Phase II contract follows the successful completion by NFS of a $57.5 million contract awarded two years ago for a process line design and pilot demonstration.

Nuclear oversight board to discuss Savannah River safety concerns

April 12, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
The DOE's Savannah River Site. (Photo: DOE)

The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) is scheduled to visit the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina the week of May 8 to discuss ongoing safety concerns and the protection of the public and workforce, as well as the DOE’s effectiveness in addressing those concerns.

NNSA establishes Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security

April 11, 2023, 7:04AMNuclear News

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration has announced the establishment of the Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security (ACNS). Formerly known as the Defense Programs Advisory Committee, the newly formed ACNS is enlisting experts with knowledge of NNSA missions to provide independent advice and recommendations to the agency’s leadership.

White House official talks strategy for securing civilian radioactive materials

March 7, 2023, 12:10PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The Biden administration on March 2 announced a new strategy to remove and secure certain highly radioactive materials that are used in hospitals and other civilian commercial facilities as a measure to prevent such materials from being acquired by terrorists for making “dirty bombs” or other weapons. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, White House assistant to the president for Homeland Security, shared the details of the National Security Memorandum to Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism and Advance Nuclear and Radioactive Material Security (NSM19) later that same day in a discussion at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) global security organization in Washington, D.C., according to a report in the New York Times.

National strategy: Biden’s newly signed NSM 19 “integrates, in a systematic way, U.S. policies to counter the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons by non-state actors; sets out unified priorities for Departments and Agencies across the Federal government; and affirms the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to work with state, local, tribal, international, and private sector partners on preventing, mitigating, and responding to WMD terrorism threats.”

Reports of fire at Y-12 weapons production building

February 22, 2023, 3:01PMNuclear News
The Y-12 site in Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A fire broke out at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., earlier today. According to Y-12’s Facebook page, one of the site’s production buildings had a fire in a hood at approximately 9:15 a.m. Y-12 emergency services responded to the event and precautionary protective actions were initiated for employees who were in the vicinity of the incident and who were not involved in the emergency response.

Low water level at reservoir may pose threat to Zaporizhzhia

February 15, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia plant (Image: Energoatom)

As if being stuck in the middle of a combat zone isn’t sufficiently nerve-racking, workers at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant—under Russian occupation since last March—must now concern themselves with having access to enough water to keep the facility safe.

Savannah River facility prepped for NNSA project

February 7, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
A crane is used to remove equipment during a project to repurpose Building 226-F for an NNSA mission at the Savannah River Site. (Photo: DOE)

Work has begun to prepare the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility (SRPPF) at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina for its future national security mission: the manufacturing of plutonium pits for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

IAEA support teams sent to bolster Ukrainian power plants

January 18, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
The Rivne nuclear power plant in western Ukraine, home to four VVER pressurized water reactors. (Photo: Victor Korniyenko/Wikipedia)

In what it is calling a “major expansion” of its efforts to prevent a severe nuclear accident befalling Ukraine, the International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday announced that it is deploying teams of nuclear security and safety experts this week to the beleaguered nation’s nuclear power plants and the Chernobyl site. (The agency has already stationed a team of experts at Ukraine’s largest nuclear facility, the six-unit Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been under Russian military occupation since last March.)

The mystery of the hidden uranium: Elementary, my dear Watson?

January 13, 2023, 12:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The discovery of a small amount of uranium inside a package of scrap metal bars at Heathrow Airport in London has raised a number of puzzling questions that are being investigated by Scotland Yard, headquarters of the London Metropolitan Police (the Met). Investigators said that the uranium, which was found by Border Force staff during routine screening at the airport on December 29, originated in Pakistan, though it arrived at Heathrow on a passenger flight from Oman and, according to a January 11 report in the Guardian, was bound for an Iranian-owned business with offices in the United Kingdom.

National labs targeted in Russia-based phishing scheme, Reuters reports

January 9, 2023, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Reuters broke an “exclusive” story on January 6 that, “according to Internet records reviewed by Reuters and five cyber security experts, a Russian hacking team known as Cold River targeted three Department of Energy laboratoriesArgonne, Brookhaven, and Lawrence Livermore—with a phishing scheme in the summer of 2022.

Russia building protection over Zaporizhzhia spent fuel tanks, according to Russian news source

December 21, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
This image from a video reportedly shows the start of installation of a protective covering over spent fuel storage tanks at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. (Image: Telegram/Vladimir Rogov)

Russia has begun construction of protected covering at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, according to a December 17 report from Russian news outlet RT. The story has been picked up in the West by some news agencies but has not been widely circulated.

Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, said, “Russia is constructing a protective dome over spent radioactive fuel stores at the [Zaporizhzhia] nuclear power plant as Ukrainian forces continue to target the facility.”

Anti-poaching system adapted for vehicle recognition

December 14, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Kerekes leans on the original vehicle recognition system hardware, which required the large solar panels behind him to power it. Kerekes holds the current version, which has been greatly reduced in size from its predecessor. (Photo: Carlos Jones/DOE)

A technology developed to prevent poachers from killing endangered African species is being adapted by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to recognize individual motor vehicles. The capability could help secure checkpoints and track nuclear materials, among other uses.


Zaporizhzhia the focus of Grossi interview

December 1, 2022, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe


The ongoing, tense situation surrounding the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine was the subject of a recent interview with International Atomic Energy Agency director general Rafael Mariano Grossi when he appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes program.

The Zaporizhzhia facility is in an area of Ukraine that became occupied by Russian forces in late February 2022. Though Ukrainian staff remain at the now mostly idle plant, artillery shells have repeatedly landed at and near the plant over the past several months, with Ukrainian officials—along with many Western media outlets—blaming Russia, while Russian officials and media blame Ukraine.

Action from the IAEA: Following months of negotiations with both sides, inspectors from the IAEA, led by Grossi, finally visited the site in late August and early September, and the agency has been monitoring the situation since then with an observation mission at the site. In the interview, which aired on November 20, Grossi did not attribute blame for the shelling to either side.

U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group resumes meetings

November 16, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The U.S.-Japan Nuclear Security Working Group (NSWG) convened for its 11th meeting in early November in Tokyo. The group continued its efforts, begun in 2011, to strengthen global nuclear security and enhance international cooperation in peaceful nuclear activities. The meeting was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed because of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NNSA officials visit Kazakhstan, discuss continued nuclear security

October 17, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News



The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration reported last week that NNSA administrator Jill Hruby and principal deputy administrator Frank Rose completed a trip to Kazakhstan on October 5 to meet with the country’s government officials. The trip served as a chance for Hruby and Rose to thank the officials for the nonproliferation and nuclear security partnership that exists between the United States and Kazakhstan. According to the NNSA, notable achievements under the partnership include Project Sapphire (see more below), the conversion of three research reactors, and efforts to counter nuclear smuggling.

New U.S.-Japan agreement on HEU-to-LEU conversion

September 29, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
NNSA administrator Jill Hruby (left) holds up the signed MOU on HEU conversion during the agency’s virtual meeting with Japan’s MEXT. (Credit: NNSA)

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT). The MOU describes their commitment to convert the Kindai University Teaching and Research Reactor (UTR-KINKI) from high-enriched uranium fuel to low-enriched uranium fuel. The nuclear nonproliferation–related agreement also calls for the secure transport of all the HEU to the United States for either downblending to LEU or disposition.

IAEA mission to Zaporizhzhia finally launched

August 30, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi (center) with his team of nuclear safety, security, and safeguards experts at the Vienna International Airport on August 29, prior to their departure for Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (Photo: Dean Calma/IAEA)

After months of urgent entreaties to both the Ukrainian and Russian governments to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency access to the embattled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi yesterday set off for the facility, accompanied by a team of nuclear security, safety, and safeguards experts.

Zaporizhzhia-5 and -6 disconnected from grid

August 25, 2022, 4:29PMNuclear News
The Zaporizhzhia plant (Image: Energoatom)

Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear plant operator, is reporting that Units 5 and 6 at the Zaporizhzhia plant—currently the facility’s only operational reactors—were disconnected from the country’s power grid early in the morning of August 25.

The Zaporizhzhia site has been under the control of the Russian military since March 4, just days after Russia commenced its invasion of Ukraine.

WIPP rescue teams compete in national competition

August 24, 2022, 12:02PMRadwaste Solutions
WIPP Blue Team participates in a final briefing before beginning a field contest in a recent national mine rescue competition. (Photo: DOE)

Mine rescue teams from the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) finished in the top 15 in competitions at the first-ever joint Coal, Metal, and Nonmetal National Mine Rescue Contest in Lexington, Ky., held on August 7–12.

NNSA to prepare Los Alamos’s fourth site-wide environmental analysis

August 23, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
A view of Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Photo: LANL)

The National Nuclear Security Administration announced that, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), it intends to prepare a site-wide environmental impact statement (SWEIS) to analyze the potential environmental impacts for continuing operations of the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the next 15 years. The SWEIS will also analyze the environmental impacts of legacy waste remediation being done by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management at the site.