• Russia to build floating nuclear power plants

    Global warming is opening the Arctic Ocean to shipping – and causing the rapid melting of Arctic ice. Russia says that ship-based nuclear power plants would allow it to provide power to remote cities in Siberia, and provide power to oil and gas drilling operations in the Arctic (about 30 percent of the world’s unclaimed natural gas is in the Arctic, and about, 60 percent of that unclaimed natural gas is in the Russian Arctic). Experts worry about the ability of ship-based nuclear reactor to withstand extreme weather events, or terrorist attacks. The U.S. Army deployed its own floating nuclear reactor – the Sturgis – in the Panama Canal Zone from 1968 to 1976.

  • Nuclear fuel withstands accident conditions’ high-temperature

    A safer and more efficient nuclear fuel is on the horizon. A team of researchers have reached a new milestone with tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) fuel, showing that this fourth-generation reactor fuel might be even more robust than previously thought. Byproducts of the fission process have the potential to escape the fuel, especially at very high temperatures. Controlled, high-temperature testing of irradiated TRISO) fuel demonstrated that fission product release remains relatively low at high temperatures postulated to occur in accidents and beyond.

  • Sharp increase in radioactive water leaks at Fukushima

    Tokyo Electric Power(TEPCO) has reported a rise in groundwater radiation levels, saying a tank at the firm’s Fukushima plant leaked 300 metric tons of toxic water in August 2013. Water samples from wells, taken in mid-October, show a record-high concentration of beta-ray emitting substances, and a sharp increase in the presence of radioactive tritium. Japanese prime ministerShinzo Abe, in a tacit admission that Japan cannot effectively handle the continuing radiation leaks from the stricken plant, said Japan would be interested in receiving foreign help to contain widening radioactive water leaks at Fukushima.

  • U.S. first nuke in thirty years mired in costly legal wrangling

    The U.S. first nuclear construction project in thirty years is the center of a $900 million lawsuit pitting Westinghouse Electric Co. against Georgia Power. The $14 billion project is about twenty months behind schedule and $900 million over budget, and each side blames the other for the delays and cost overruns.

  • Irish heritage groups sues U.K. over nuclear power plant

    An Taisce, an Irish charity group promoting the preservation of Ireland’s heritage, is taking the British government to the High Court in London in December seeking a judicial review of the legality of British energy minister Ed Davey’s decision to approve the construction of a nuclear power plant just 150 miles from the Irish coast without consulting the Irish public.

  • Better protective shield material for nuclear waste

    The integrity and survivability of a nuclear waste package is critically important in the transport of nuclear fuel and high-level waste. Research are working on developing an outer shield material for use in packaging which is resistant to corrosion, radiation, diffusion, and thermal cycling processes that affect fuel packages during long-term storage. The material will also need to be wear-tolerant and mechanically robust so that it can survive repeated handling and transportation.

  • U.S. nuclear power industry facing growing challenges

    The U.S. nuclear industry is scaling back expectations on the future of the industry, expectations which only a few were soaring. The availability of cheaper energy alternatives, a growing trend toward energy conservation, and renewed safety and health worries as a result of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plantaccident, are all reasons for why active nuclear plants are being forced to close, and why fewer energy companies are investing in new nuclear plants or upgrading existing ones.

  • Debate heats up over N.Y.’s Indian Point nuke license renewal

    Indian Point nuclear power plant, located twenty-four miles north of New York City, provides 25 percent of the power used in New York City and Westchester County. The plant’s two reactors were built four decades ago, and the plant operator is seeking a 20-year license renewal for them, or they will have to be shut down. Opponents of the license renewal point to the risk inherent in operating aging reactors – and to a recently discovered risk: Indian Point is located near two active seismic areas — the Ramapo Fault Plain and the Peekskill-Stamford line.

  • Costly DOE uranium processing facility questioned

    The cost of a proposed Department of Energy’s uranium processing facility for nuclear weapons at theY-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee has increase nineteen times – from the original estimate of $600 million to $11.6 billion. If these estimates are accurate, the processing facility would entail one the largest investments in the U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure since the Manhattan Project.

  • $5 million NSF grant focuses on nuclear threat inspection

    Penn State University has received a 5-year grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and DHS for nuclear threat inspection, as part of a team led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and including Georgia Tech. The grant will help develop new systems and sensors that will help detect nuclear weapons, special nuclear materials, radiation dispersal devices, and related threats.

  • Jellyfish attack shuts down Swedish nuke

    The Oskarshamn nuclear plant in southeastern Sweden, one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants, was forced to shut down when it was attacked by a large cluster of jellyfish. On Sunday, operators of the plant had to scramble reactor number three after a cluster of jellyfish, weighing several tons, clogged the cooling pipes which carry water to keep the core of the reactor cool.

  • Alabama State launches Nuclear Academy

    A new academy at Alabama State University (ASU) will enhance security at nuclear, electric, and green-energy power installations across the United States and abroad. The new academy will provide comprehensive training for current and future security professionals who will offer infrastructure protection services to nuclear, electric and green-energy power installations.

  • Robust fourth-generation nuclear fuel withstands high-temperature accident conditions

    A safer and more efficient nuclear fuel is on the horizon. A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have reached a new milestone with tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) fuel, showing that this fourth-generation reactor fuel might be even more robust than previously thought.

  • U.S. nuclear power industry facing dire prospects

    The U.S. nuclear industry is facing several daunting challenges, with industry experts concluding that it may well be an energy source of the past. New construction of nuclear plants has come to a halt, older nuclear plants are closing, and plant expansions are put on hold. The main culprits: the price of natural gas is dropping fast because of new resources becoming available as a result of fracking, and wind and solar are making steady, if slow, gains.

  • Improving nuclear waste repositories

    How fast will iodine-129 released from spent nuclear fuel move through a deep, clay-based geological repository? Understanding this process is crucial. Countries worldwide consider underground clay formations for nuclear waste disposal because clay offers low permeability and high radionuclide retention. Even when a repository is not sited in clay, engineered barriers often include a compacted buffer of bentonite, a common type of clay, to improve waste isolation.