Nuclear News on the Newswire

Belgium mulls life extension for more reactors

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.

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Building the workforce of tomorrow

Steven Arndt

One of the duties of the ANS president is to visit with American Nuclear Society student sections. As some of you know, I have been doing this both in person and virtually. Although meeting via Zoom and other platforms is easier in terms of scheduling and travel, there is nothing like being able to interact face to face. Visiting student sections in person has been the highlight of my time as president. As I have stated on several occasions, the enthusiasm and excitement I have seen among the nuclear engineering students in the U.S. is nothing short of exhilarating!

When we think of workforce planning, those of us who have had long associations with universities naturally think first of undergraduate and graduate nuclear engineering programs at our universities, but this is of course only a part of the overall solution. The first—and in many ways the most important—part of workforce development is getting our nation’s youth excited about nuclear science and technology.

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Savannah River facility prepped for NNSA project

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.

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X-energy, Alberta explore opportunities to support SMR projects

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.)

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Enriching nuclear’s human element

Craig Piercy

This month’s Nuclear News focuses on the challenges of building and maintaining a strong, productive nuclear technology workforce. While my sense is that U.S. nuclear is in significant growth mode, I’ve made a habit of asking our Utility Working Conference and Winter Meeting exhibitors, “What is the most significant challenge you face today?” The answer is almost always some form of “finding good talent.” Conversely, ask any nuclear engineering student about their career prospects, and you will likely get a confident response, so it seems that multiple offers are becoming the norm in the nuclear tech employment market.

Of course, empirical data is harder to come by. A 2019 study by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative found 60,916 workers employed in U.S. nuclear power generation, with another 9,406 employed in the nuclear fuels sector. But we still lack good, publicly available numbers for national labs, universities, and suppliers, as well as any job focused on nonnuclear applications of nuclear technology.

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A review of workforce trends in the nuclear community

The nuclear community is undergoing a moment of unprecedented interest and growth not seen in decades. The passage of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act are providing a multitude of new funding opportunities for the nuclear community, and not just the current fleet. A mix of technologies and reactor types are being evaluated and deployed, with Vogtle Units 3 and 4 coming on line later this year, the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Projects of X-energy and TerraPower, and NuScale’s work with Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to build a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor, making this is an exciting time to join the nuclear workforce.

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