Radwaste Solutions on the Newswire

The Watchful Guardian: Argonne’s ARG-US remote monitoring technologies

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory are developing and deploying ARG-US (from the Greek Argus, meaning “Watchful Guardian”) remote monitoring systems technologies to enhance the safety, security, and safeguards (3S) of packages of nuclear and other radioactive material during storage, transportation, and disposal.

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Taking a train to Texas

Last year in late August, 120 storage cylinders of depleted uranium oxide (DUOx) safely arrived by rail in West Texas, having been shipped from the Department of Energy’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio. It was the first such shipment of the stable crystalline powder from the Portsmouth Site and was another milestone in the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) efforts to ship DUOx for off-site disposal.

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Nonproliferation proponents call on Biden to oppose SHINE's proposed recycling plant

A group of 29 nonproliferation supporters sent a letter to President Biden asking that he withhold federal support for a proposed pilot plant for recycling spent nuclear fuel to be built by the Wisconsin-based fusion tech company SHINE Technologies. The experts further asked that Biden “discourage” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from licensing the plant, claiming it would extract enough weapons-grade plutonium to build 100 atomic bombs a year.

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House E&C subcommittee to hold hearing on spent fuel management

The House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a public hearing on improving the U.S. management of spent nuclear fuel. The hearing, titled “American Nuclear Energy Expansion: Spent Fuel Policy and Innovation,” will be held on April 10 by the E&C Energy, Climate, and Grid Security Subcommittee.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the E&C Committee website.

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WIPP marks 25 years of TRU waste operations

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management celebrated a major milestone for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant last week, marking the 25th anniversary of the receipt of the first waste shipment at the disposal facility in New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.

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Labor pact to boost pay, benefits to Oak Ridge cleanup workers

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced the signing of a project labor agreement (PLA) between Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) contractor UCOR and North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU). The agreement, which allows for flexibility in wage increases and other incentives, is expected to help recruit and retain skilled construction trade workers at the DOE site in Tennessee.

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iLAMP: Neutron Absorber Material Monitoring for Spent Fuel Pools

The spent fuel pool at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant near Spring City, Tenn. (Photo: TVA)

Neutron absorber materials are used by nuclear power plants to maintain criticality safety margins in their spent nuclear fuel pools. These materials are typically in the form of fixed panels of a neutron-absorbing composite material that is placed within the fuel pools. (A comprehensive review of such materials used in wet storage pools and dry storage has been provided by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) [1]).

With increasing plant life, there is a need to maintain or establish a monitoring program for neutron absorber materials—if one is not already in place—as part of aging management plans for reactor spent fuel pools.

Such monitoring programs are necessary to verify that the neutron absorbers continue to provide the criticality safety margins relied upon in the criticality analyses of a reactor’s spent fuel pool. To do this, the monitoring program must be capable of identifying any changes to the material and quantifying those changes. It should be noted that not all the changes (for example minor pitting and blistering of the absorber material) will result in statistically or operationally significant impact on the criticality safety margins.

For monitoring neutron absorber materials in spent fuel pools, until recently, two alternatives existed—coupon testing and in situ measurements. A third option, called industry-wide learning aging management program (i-LAMP), was proposed by EPRI and is currently in the final stages of the regulatory review. The following sections describe these monitoring approaches.

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