• Nuclear powerPublic dread of nuclear power sets limits on its use

    Nuclear power has been a part of the American energy portfolio since the 1950s, but for a number of reasons, the general public has long felt a significant dread about it.

  • PerspectiveHBO’s “Chernobyl” exposes the horrifying scope of Soviet deception

    The new five-part miniseries, premiering 6 May, examines the Chernobyl nuclear disaster—and the brave people who sacrificed their lives to reveal the shocking truth. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the screw-up to end all screw-ups, playing a part in more than 93,000 deaths and turning the northern Ukrainian region uninhabitable. Nick Schager writes in the Daily Beast that, as HBO’s Chernobyl reveals, even more deadly than the radiation released by the accident were the lies that caused it in the first place—and, afterwards, stymied efforts to contain and combat it.

  • Nuclear wasteLos Alamos nuclear waste successfully shipped to WIPP

    The first shipment in five years of Transuranic (TRU) waste from the Los Alamos National Laboratory has been successfully delivered to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

  • Nuclear proliferationDetecting radioactive material remotely

    Physicists have developed a powerful new method to detect radioactive material. By using an infrared laser beam to induce a phenomenon known as an electron avalanche breakdown near the material, the new technique is able to detect shielded material from a distance. The method improves upon current technologies that require close proximity to the radioactive material.

  • Nuclear wasteEasier access to radioactive waste

    At the Hanford Site, waste retrieval has been completed in 17 of 149 large concrete underground single-shell tanks. The tanks were constructed of carbon steel and reinforced concrete between 1943 and 1964 to store a radioactive mix of sludge and saltcake waste from past nuclear processing activities. Hanford is installing new access holes in the tank domes for future retrieval efforts.

  • Nuclear safetyRobots help in the demanding Fukushima cleanup efforts

    In 2011, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake all but decimated the Pacific Coast of Tohoku, Japan, including the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. A catastrophic meltdown ensued. Many tons of nuclear fuel, boiled down to a radioactive lava, corroded the steel surrounding the facility’s three reactors. Today, the cleanup effort is still projected to take several decades. S&T and NIST developed standard test methods for robots, which the Japanese government is now beginning to apply directly to their Fukushima cleanup efforts.

  • Nuclear safetyBetter monitoring of nuclear power plants, nuclear proliferation

    The United Kingdom is investing nearly £10 million (about $12.7 million) in a joint project with the United States to harness existing particle physics research techniques to remotely monitor nuclear reactors. Expected to be operational in 2024, the Advanced Instrumentation Testbed (AIT) project’s 6,500-ton detector will measure the harmless subatomic particles called antineutrinos that are emitted by an existing nuclear power plant 25 kilometers, or about 15.5 miles, away.

  • Nuclear disastersThe opening moments of the Chernobyl disaster: New theory

    A brand-new theory of the opening moments during the Chernobyl disaster, the most severe nuclear accident in history, based on additional analysis. The new theory suggests the first of the two explosions reported by eyewitnesses was a nuclear and not a steam explosion, as is currently widely thought.

  • Nuclear safetyNRC weakens a critical safety regulation, ignoring Fukushima disaster lessons

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC), in a 3-2 vote, approved a stripped-down version of a rule originally intended to protect U.S. nuclear plants against extreme natural events, such as the massive earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan in March 2011. The decision will leave U.S. nuclear plants dangerously vulnerable to major floods and earthquakes.

  • Nuclear safetyRobots to operate in nuclear no-go zones

    Sturdy, intelligent robots which react to their surroundings are being developed to work in situations which are too dangerous for humans, such as cleaning up Europe’s decades-old radioactive waste or helping during a nuclear emergency.

  • Nuclear wasteU.S. must start from scratch with a new nuclear waste strategy: Experts

    The U.S. government has worked for decades and spent tens of billions of dollars in search of a permanent resting place for the nation’s nuclear waste. Some 80,000 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants and millions of gallons of high-level nuclear waste from defense programs are stored in pools, dry casks and large tanks at more than seventy-five sites throughout the country. “No single group, institution or governmental organization is incentivized to find a solution,” says one expert.

  • Nuclear wasteWhat should we do with nuclear waste?

    The failure to develop a strategy for permanent storage and disposal of this fuel costs Americans billions of dollars a year and jeopardizes the future of nuclear power as a carbon-free source of energy, according to nuclear security expert Rodney C. Ewing. He recommends a new not for profit independent corporation that’s owned and supported by the utilities that operate nuclear power plants. The new organization would deal only with spent fuel from commercial reactors. Defense waste is an entirely different issue and should, at this time, remain the responsibility of the federal government.

  • Nuclear powerMIT Energy Initiative study reports on the future of nuclear energy

    By Francesca McCaffrey

    How can the world achieve the deep carbon emissions reductions that are necessary to slow or reverse the impacts of climate change? The authors of a new MIT study say that unless nuclear energy is meaningfully incorporated into the global mix of low-carbon energy technologies, the challenge of climate change will be much more difficult and costly to solve. For nuclear energy to take its place as a major low-carbon energy source, however, issues of cost and policy need to be addressed.

  • Nuclear safetyNuclear safety board slams Energy Department plan to weaken oversight

    By Rebecca Moss

    The Trump administration defended an order that could be used to withhold information about nuclear facilities from a federal board, but its leader says the action is not consistent with the U.S. Atomic Energy Act.

  • Climate threats & nuclear plantsWhat are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats?

    By John Vidal

    Flooding can be catastrophic to a nuclear power plant because it can knock out its electrical systems, disabling its cooling mechanisms and leading to overheating and possible meltdown and a dangerous release of radioactivity. At least 100 U.S., European and Asian nuclear power stations built just a few meters above sea level could be threatened by serious flooding caused by accelerating sea-level rise and more frequent storm surges. More than 20 flooding incidents have been recorded at U.S. nuclear plants since the early 1980s. A number of scientific papers published in 2018 suggest that climate change will impact coastal nuclear plants earlier and harder than the industry, governments, or regulatory bodies have expected, and that the safety standards set by national nuclear regulators and the IAEA are out of date and take insufficient account of the effects of climate change on nuclear power.