Nuclear News on the Newswire

CP-1 at 80: The legacy of CP-1—and the scientist who created its neutron activity detector

Nuclear Newswire is back with the final #ThrowbackThursday post honoring the 80th anniversary of Chicago Pile-1 with offerings from past issues of Nuclear News. On November 17, we took a look at the lead-up to the first controlled nuclear chain reaction and on December 1, the events of December 2, 1942, the day a self-sustaining nuclear fission reaction was created and controlled inside a pile of graphite and uranium assembled on a squash court at the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field.

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DOE-NE opens HALEU Consortium with focus on information exchange

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced December 7 that its new HALEU Consortium is open for membership. And not just from U.S. enrichers, fuel fabricators, and others working in the front-end fuel cycle, but from “any U.S. entity, association, and government organization involved in the nuclear fuel cycle,” and—at the DOE’s discretion—“organizations whose facilities are in ally or partner nations.” The HALEU Consortium will essentially serve as an information clearinghouse to meet DOE-NE’s ongoing needs for firm supply and demand data as it supports the development of a commercial domestic high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) infrastructure to fuel advanced reactors. The consortium is open for business almost one full year after the DOE first requested public input on its structure.

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License renewal application for Comanche Peak docketed

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has docketed Vistra Corporation’s license renewal application for the Comanche Peak reactors.

Operated by Vistra subsidiary Luminant and located in Glen Rose, Texas, the Comanche Peak plant is home to two pressurized water reactors. The original 40-year licenses for Units 1 and 2 expire in February 2030 and February 2033, respectively.

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How excellence in plant operations will lead to a brighter nuclear future

Steven Arndt
president@ans.org

For years the U.S. nuclear industry has done an outstanding job keeping plant availability high while simultaneously continuing to improve safety and economics. With capacity factors averaging more than 90 percent, you would think that no one would shut down an operational nuclear power plant. But that is what we have seen in a number of cases. Fortunately, this now seems to be changing. As I write this column, Diablo Canyon’s new life extension application has just been submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review, and the Department of Energy’s program to support continued operation of nuclear power plants is providing hope that current plants will continue to have the opportunity to demonstrate their operational excellence.

How did we get here? When I ask this question—both of myself and the industry as a whole—I envision this as two sides of the same coin. Through the efforts of many we have improved our financial and economic viability, but challenges remain because the full value proposition of nuclear energy has not been realized.

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NRC awards R&D grants as part of University Nuclear Leadership Program

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of Regulatory Research recently awarded 20 new research and development grants in the University Nuclear Leadership Program (UNLP). The grants, totaling $9,998,188, are derived from the $16 million that Congress appropriated for the program for fiscal year 2022. The 20 selected proposals were among the 89 that were submitted to the NRC and peer-reviewed by the commission staff and experts from academia.

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Bids in for new unit at Dukovany

A Westinghouse-Bechtel team, France’s EDF, and Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power have all submitted their initial bids for securing the contract to build a fifth reactor at the Czech Republic’s Dukovany plant, Czech utility ČEZ has announced.

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NorthStar completes construction of Mo-99 production facility

NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes has completed construction and all equipment installation at its new facility in Beloit, Wis., to produce the medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 without the use of high-enriched uranium, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced last week.

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