Nuclear News on the Newswire

Terrestrial Energy upgrades IMSR plant design

Terrestrial Energy has upgraded the design of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear power plant, the company announced on September 14. The proposed facility will now feature 390 MWe of generation capacity for grid supply from twin reactors and generators. Ontario, Canada–based

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Illinois governor signs energy bill aiding nuclear plants

In an hour-long ceremony held yesterday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium amid some fanfare (it included an appearance by lizards, a snake, and a penguin), Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (S.B. 2408). The bill is a sweeping overhaul of the state’s energy policies aimed at phasing out fossil-fuel power generation and placing Illinois on a path to become a 100 percent carbon-free energy producer by 2050.

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Helium-3 to be produced from tritium stored at Canada’s Darlington station

Laurentis Energy Partners, a subsidiary of Ontario Power Generation (OPG), has launched a new program to produce helium-3. The He-3 will be obtained from tritium stored at OPG’s Darlington nuclear power plant, a four-unit CANDU station located about 100 kilometers east of Toronto.

Darlington houses one of the world’s largest reserves of tritium, which is a by-product of the heavy water used in CANDU reactors.

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Biden makes pick for open FERC seat

Willie L. Phillips Jr.

President Biden last Thursday announced his intention to nominate Willie L. Phillips Jr., chairman of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, for the vacant seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Phillips would replace Republican Neil Chatterjee, who left FERC at the end of August, two months after the official expiration of his term. (Chatterjee remained on the commission to provide time for the Biden administration to choose his replacement. He has since joined the Climate Leadership Council and the global law firm Hogan Lovells.)

Before joining the D.C. PSC, Phillips served as assistant general counsel for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation. He is currently an active member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where he serves on the board of directors as chair of the Select Committee on Regulatory and Industry Diversity.

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Bill to preserve Illinois nuclear passes legislature

The yearlong, nail-biting drama over the fate of Exelon’s Byron and Dresden nuclear plants came to an end on Monday afternoon when the Illinois Senate gave its nod to S.B. 2408, a wide-ranging clean energy package that seeks to phase out fossil-fuel power generation in the state and place it on a path to 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050.

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NRC EDO leaves for senior position at IAEA

Doane

Margaret Doane, the first female executive director for operations at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will depart the agency on October 8 to take the position of deputy director general for management at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the NRC announced this morning.

Doane, who has been the NRC’s EDO since July 2018, began her career at the agency in 1991 as a special assistant in the Office of the Secretary. Her senior leadership roles have included serving as an attorney in the Office of Commission Appellate Adjudication, chief of staff for former commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield, and NRC general counsel—a position she held from 2012 to 2018. Doane has international experience as well, having served in the Office of International Programs, both as deputy director and director.

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MIT ramps 10-ton magnet up to 20 tesla in proof of concept for commercial fusion

A high-temperature superconducting magnet reached and maintained a magnetic field of more than 20 tesla in steady state for about five hours on September 5 at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center. Not only is the magnet the strongest high-temperature superconducting (HTS) magnet in the world by far, it is also large enough—when assembled in a ring of 17 identical magnets and surrounding structures—to contain a plasma that MIT and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) hope will produce net energy in a compact tokamak device called SPARC in 2025, on track for commercial fusion energy in the early 2030s.

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Byron, Dresden saved by the bill? An update

(This story has been updated from yesterday's post about the Illinois energy package.)

With only days remaining before the scheduled retirement of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear plant, the Illinois House has approved a comprehensive energy package (S.B. 2408) that would save the plant, as well as the state’s similarly struggling Braidwood and Dresden facilities.

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Byron, Dresden saved by the bill?

With only days remaining before the scheduled retirement of Exelon Generation’s Byron nuclear plant, the Illinois General Assembly may be close to passing a comprehensive energy package (S.B. 2408) that would save that plant, as well as the state’s similarly struggling Braidwood and Dresden facilities.

House Democrats have introduced an amendment to S.B. 2408 that would require municipally owned coal plants to achieve a 45 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and completely phase out coal by 2045. The House is considering the amendment today.

(Financial assistance to Illinois’s nuclear fleet is part of a package that for weeks has been mired in disagreement between unions and environmental groups over the fate of the state’s coal plants.)

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