Nuclear News on the Newswire

Nuclear security workforce development

Ensuring that nuclear technology is used exclusively for peaceful purposes remains a critical challenge for our society today. The global community faces several grave nuclear security threats: nations that attempt to create (such as Iran) or augment (such as Russia, China, and North Korea) their nuclear arsenals, acts of aggression that target civilian nuclear reactors (as seen with Russia in Ukraine), and the looming menace of nuclear weapons deployment (emanating from Russia). Furthermore, addressing climate change necessitates an expansion of nuclear energy for electricity generation, which brings with it the need for safeguarding and regulating the deployment of advanced reactors.

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NRC accepts TerraPower’s SMR construction permit

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has formally accepted TerraPower’s small modular reactor construction permit application and is scheduling it for review.

The company’s Natrium reactor demonstration project—the nation’s first commercial advanced reactor of its kind—would be built on land in Wyoming near one of the state’s retiring coal plants. Kemmerer Power Station Unit 1 would operate as a 345-MW sodium-cooled reactor in conjunction with molten salt–based energy storage.

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Constellation chief doesn’t rule out Three Mile Island restart

On the company’s earnings call this month, Constellation CEO Joe Dominguez was asked if there is a possibility of restarting the shuttered Three Mile Island plant—as is being proposed for the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan.

“We’re not unaware that opportunity exists for us,” Dominguez said. “We’re obviously seen what’s happened with Palisades and I think that was brilliant. Brilliant for the nation. … We are doing a good bit of thinking about a number of different opportunities, and that would probably certainly be one of those that we would think about.”

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Kyoto Fusioneering and CNL form fusion development joint venture

Japan’s Kyoto Fusioneering, a fusion startup spun out from Kyoto University, and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories have announced the formation of Fusion Fuel Cycles Inc., headquartered in Chalk River, Ontario, Canada. The joint venture extends a strategic alliance formed between the two entities in September 2023 and aims to develop and deploy deuterium-tritium (D-T) fusion fuel cycle technologies.

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Argonne National Laboratory’s fast reactors in Idaho

Idaho’s nuclear energy history is deep and rich. The National Reactor Testing Station (NRTS) began its history as an artillery testing range in the 1940s.1 Following World War II, Walter Zinn, Argonne National Laboratory’s founding director and Manhattan Project Chicago Pile-1 project manager, proposed to the Atomic Energy Commission that a remote location be found for building test reactors. In 1949, he and Roger S. Warner, AEC’s director of engineering,2 developed a list of potential sites from which the NRTS was selected. Over the decades, quite a few companies and AEC national laboratories built 52 experimental and test reactors at the NRTS, including 14 by Argonne.3 (For a brief AEC video on the NRTS, see youtube.com/watch?v=C458NsH08TI.)

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UT–Knoxville, Roane State to receive expanded nuclear education funding

Last week Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Stuart McWhorter, commissioner of the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, announced that the University of Tennessee–Knoxville and Roane State Community College will receive funding from Tennessee’s Nuclear Energy Fund to support existing nuclear programs as well as develop and implement new nuclear education curriculum.

Using its portion of the $50 million Nuclear Energy Fund, the University of Tennessee will establish a new program for non-nuclear engineers to obtain a minor in nuclear engineering at its Knoxville campus. Separate funding for Roane State Community College will allow purchase of laboratory equipment for that school’s inaugural nuclear technology program, which launches in the fall of 2024.

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IAEA issues incident-tracking database fact sheet

Last year, 168 incidents of illegal or unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials were reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB). According to the agency, this number is in line with historical averages. These incidents were reported by 31 IAEA member states; as of 2023, a total of 145 member states have participated in the ITDB.

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