Nuclear News on the Newswire

Corey Hinderstein nominated for NNSA nonproliferation post

President Biden has nominated Corey Hinderstein, ANS member since 2016, for deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Hinderstein is vice president of international fuel cycle strategies at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, based in Washington, D.C. Her focus is on international nuclear fuel cycle and nonproliferation policy, global nuclear security, and arms control and nonproliferation monitoring and verification.

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An inventive solution speeds up production of actinium-225

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory researcher has built a device that can speed up the separation of the medical radioisotope actinium-225 from irradiated thorium targets and withstand the high-radiation environment of a hot cell. In July, ORNL announced that Kevin Gaddis, a chemistry technician at the lab, had built and tested a prototype and was working to secure a patent for a device that cut separations time by 75 percent.

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Exelon still “hopeful” for state aid to IL plants, but solution remains in limbo

A $6 billion lifeline for struggling U.S. nuclear power plants is reportedly included in the nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill currently being mulled over in the U.S. Senate, but it won’t be thrown in time to rescue Illinois’s Byron and Dresden plants, according to owner and operator Exelon.

In an August 4 statement on second-quarter earnings, Exelon’s president and chief executive officer, Chris Crane, noted that while his company is encouraged by the growth of federal support for policies that acknowledge the value of nuclear’s clean energy generation, “passage of legislation remains uncertain and, regardless, will come too late to save our Byron and Dresden plants from early retirement this fall. While we remain hopeful that a state solution will pass in time to save the plants, clean energy legislation in Illinois remains caught in negotiations over unrelated policy matters, leaving us no choice but to continue down the path of closing the plants.” (Last August, Exelon announced its intention to prematurely retire Byron and Dresden, citing long­standing economic pressures. Last week, the company filed decommissioning plans for the two nuclear facilities.)

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ORNL to test accident tolerant fuel irradiated at Byron-2

Several lead test rods of Westinghouse’s EnCore accident tolerant fuel recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for post-irradiation examination over the next year in support of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The rods were installed in 2019 in Exelon’s Byron-2, a 1,158-MWe pressurized water reactor, and were removed in fall 2020 and prepared for shipment to ORNL.

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China’s 51st power reactor enters operation

China continues its relentless march toward the top of the list of nations with the most power reactors. On July 31, China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN) announced that Unit 5 at the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning Province has begun commercial operation, giving China 51 commercial-scale power reactors, only five fewer than France, which currently sits at the number-two spot on the list with 56 operating reactors.

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University infrastructure bill calls for investments in advanced nuclear, workforce

A bipartisan group of legislators has introduced a bill to invest in university nuclear science and engineering infrastructure, establish regional consortia to promote collaboration with industry and national laboratories, and support the development of advanced reactor technology. The National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021 (H.R. 4819) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Anthony Gonzalez (R., Ohio), Sean Casten (D., Ill.), Peter Meijer (R., Mich.), and Bill Foster (D., Ill).

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DOE’s Huff: VTR is key to sustained advanced reactor innovation

An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated that Kathryn Huff was the DOE's assistant secretary, it has been updated to show that she is the acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy. We apologize for the error.

Kathryn Huff, the Department of Energy’s acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy, asserted in an article published online by the Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) on July 30 that demonstration reactors, such as the Natrium and Xe-100 reactors being built as full-size power producers with cost-shared funding from the DOE, and test reactors, such as the Versatile Test Reactor, are both necessary for nuclear innovation. Both are also line items in the DOE budget request, and Huff’s article sends a clear message to appropriators about the need to fund both the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) and the VTR.

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Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places

Craig Piercy

Per Nuclear News tradition, this month’s issue is dedicated to highlighting our nuclear technology supply chain. U.S. nuclear suppliers have certainly seen their share of challenges in the last decade or so. The widely anticipated “Nuclear Renaissance” of the early 2000s gave way to Fukushima, then a wavelet of plant closures that ANS President Steve Nesbit addresses in his column on page 15 of the August 2021 issue of Nuclear News.

However, the nuclear narrative has taken on a more positive tone of late. Significant federal investments in advanced nuclear energy systems, coupled with a broader recognition of the need to decarbonize, has stoked excitement for a new generation of U.S. technology on the verge of scaled commercial deployment by the end of the decade. Hopefully, in the words of Washington Nationals manager Davey Martinez, whose team went from a 19–32 record to World Series champs in 2019, “Bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.”

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