Nuclear News on the Newswire

Carbon value: Lifetime extensions of nuclear reactors could save billions in climate mitigation costs

On the road to achieving net-zero by midcentury, low- or no-carbon energy sources that slash carbon dioxide emissions are critical weapons. Nevertheless, the role of nuclear energy—the single largest source of carbon-free electricity—remains uncertain.

Nuclear energy, which provides 20 percent of the electricity in the United States, has been a constant, reliable, carbon-free source for nearly 50 years. But our fleet of nuclear reactors is aging, with more than half of the 92 operating reactors across 29 states at or over 40 years old—the length of the original operating licenses issued to the power plants. While some reactors have been retired prematurely, there are two options for those that remain: retire them or renew their license.

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Bruce Power announces milestone in medical Lu-177 production

An international collaboration between Bruce Power, Isogen (a joint venture of Kinectrics and Framatome), and ITM Isotope Technologies Munich SE, announced a milestone marking the first time that lutetium-177, a short-lived medical radioisotope, has been produced in a commercial nuclear power reactor.

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Georgia Power sued by Vogtle co-owners

Both Oglethorpe Power Corporation and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG), two co-owners of the Vogtle nuclear plant, have filed lawsuits against Southern Company subsidiary Georgia Power, the facility’s primary owner.

Oglethorpe and MEAG are 30 percent and 22.7 percent owners, respectively, of Vogtle. Georgia Power holds a 45.7 percent share. (Dalton Utilities, which owns 1.6 percent of the plant, is not involved in the suits.)

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FPL files report, asks NRC to reinstate Turkey Point’s 20-year subsequent renewal term

Florida Power & Light (FPL) has submitted a supplemental environmental report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in support of the subsequent renewed licenses for Turkey Point Units 3 and 4. According to a June 22 NRC press release, FPL’s report was submitted on June 10 to satisfy a “deficiency” in subsequent license renewal applications (SLRA) that rely on the generic environmental impact statement (GEIS) on license renewal and is being reviewed prior to docketing. William D. Maher, director of nuclear licensing projects at FPL, submitted the report, noting that “FPL’s review did not identify any information materially changing the impact assessments” in the NRC’s supplemental GEIS for the Turkey Point licenses.

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Orano, TerraPower get vouchers to study LEU+ transport and chlorine chemistry

The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) awarded vouchers to Orano Federal Services and TerraPower on June 22, giving them access to specialized facilities and expertise at Department of Energy national laboratories. Orano is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a new technical study that updates the physical chemistry limits for the safe transport of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas enriched up to 10 percent in existing shipping containers, and TerraPower is turning to Los Alamos National Laboratory’s neutron testing capabilities to measure the properties of chlorine isotopes and determine how they will behave in the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE).

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U.K. fusion energy projects get regulatory clarity to speed deployment

Future fusion energy facilities will continue to be regulated by the Environment Agency (EA) and Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the U.K. government announced June 20, and existing law on nuclear regulations will be amended to exclude fusion energy facilities from nuclear fission regulatory and licensing requirements. The move was announced by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) with the expectation it would provide “clarity to developers of prototype/demonstration fusion facilities currently being planned to support rapid commercialization.”

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House Appropriations panel approves $56 billion energy spending bill

A draft fiscal year 2023 Energy and Water Development bill, released Monday by the House Appropriations Committee, received the imprimatur of the Energy and Water Development (EWD) Subcommittee yesterday and now moves to the full committee for consideration.

The measure, totaling $56.275 billion—$3.4 billion more than the FY 2022 enacted level—includes funding for the Department of Energy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, and a number of independent agencies, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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NuScale changes focus from development to delivery

NuScale Power, the Portland, Ore.–based small modular reactor developer, will make a strategic shift from product development to product delivery with the establishment of a new VOYGR Services and Delivery business unit, the company announced this week.

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Nuclear power’s moonshot: Three teams have one year to design a lunar power reactor

Three teams have been picked to design a fission surface power system that NASA could deploy on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA and Idaho National Laboratory announced today. A fission surface power project sponsored by NASA in collaboration with the Department of Energy and INL is targeting the demonstration of a 40-kWe reactor built to operate for at least 10 years on the moon, enabling lunar exploration under NASA’s Artemis program. Twelve-month contracts valued at $5 million each are going to Lockheed Martin (partnered with BWX Technologies and Creare), Westinghouse (partnered with Aerojet Rocketdyne), and IX (a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and X-energy, partnered with Maxar and Boeing).

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Barakah-3 license issued; fuel loading starts

The United Arab Emirates’ Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) has issued the operating license for the Barakah nuclear plant’s Unit 3 reactor, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation announced yesterday. In addition, following receipt of the license, ENEC subsidiary Nawah Energy Company began the process of loading fuel assemblies into the unit, according to the announcement.

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