• Software to cut millions from nuclear clean-up bill

    New software lets planners work out the best way of breaking up and packing contaminated equipment while minimizing workers’ radiation exposure. It also shows in minute detail how radioactive waste can be stored in the smallest possible space, reducing the number of long-term storage containers needed

  • China's nuclear reactors to use technology rejected by U.S., U.K. as unsafe

    Ten of China’s proposed nuclear power reactors will use Westinghouse’s AP1000 advanced technology; the United States rejected the AP100 design, saying key components of the reactormight not withstand events like earthquakes and tornadoes; the United Kingdom indicated it, too, would reject Westinghouse’s new reactor because it could be vulnerable to terrorist attacks

  • Leak at Vermont nuclear plant

    Yet more troubles for the already-troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear plant: an 18-inch crack is found a fiberglass cooling tower pipe — the second crack in the same pipe; since the beginning of the year, the plant has experienced several accidents, among them a tritium leak and a leak of Strontium-90 into the neighboring soil and ground water; the leaks were found in an examination which was part of the plant’s request for a 20-year extension of its operating license

  • U.K. to build ten new nuclear power plants by 2025

    The United Kingdom will build ten new nuclear power plants by 2025; these plants will supply 25 percent of the country’s energy needs; to move the licensing process quickly, the government has promised “faster and fairer planning decisions”

  • Italian-Russian reactor could be the first to achieve self-sustaining fusion

    As the interest in alternatives to fossil fuels grows, so does the interest in nuclear fusion; a Russian-Italian project will build a self-sustaining fusion reactor based on a design by an MIT scientist; the design employs a doughnut-shaped device which uses powerful magnetic fields to produce fusion by squeezing superheated plasma of hydrogen isotopes

  • The day of transportable, refrigerator-size nuclear reactor nears

    The need for more energy and the growing interest in energy not based on fossil material have led to a revival of interest in nuclear power; there is a competition afoot among several companies for designing and building — and receiving a operation license for — a refrigerator-size nuclear reactor; the $50 million, 25-megawatt unit is transportable by truck, and would put electricity into 20,000 homes

  • Russia, Italy to build new fusion reactor

    The reactor, designed by MIT researchers, is based on MIT’s Alcator fusion research program, which has the highest magnetic field and highest plasma pressure of any fusion reactor, and is the largest university-based fusion reactor in the world; the new reactor, called Ignitor, would be about twice the size of Alcator — but much smaller and less expensive than the ITER fusion reactor currently under construction in France

  • DOE removes from its Web site a guide on nuclear plant air attacks

    Since 2008 the Department of Energy’s Web site offered the public a virtual how-to manual for attacking a nuclear plant with an airplane; The document showed the areas that a plane could hit at a reactor with maximum effect, and it cited buildings or targets that a plane could strike and cause radioactive release; the document has now been removed

  • New York denies water permit for Indian Point nuclear plant

    The New York Department of Environmental Conservation denied water-quality certification to Indian Point nuclear power plant; the operator requires the certification to extend by twenty years the license to operate the 2,000-megawatt plant

  • Japan plans nuclear power expansion

    Japan imports 80 percent of its energy; the government has a plan aiming to reduce that figure to just 30 percent by 2030; the key to the plan: building eight new nuclear reactors by 2020 — adding to the country’s 54 operating reactors; Japan is also about to resume operations of the world’s only fast-breeder reactor; the plan faces public opposition, especially in light of Japan’s history of earthquakes

  • New research points way to safer nuclear reactors

    Self-repairing materials within nuclear reactors may one day become a reality as a result of research by Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists; when designing nuclear reactors or the materials that go into them, one of the key challenges is finding materials that can withstand an outrageously extreme environment; researchers find that nanocrystalline materials may offer an answer

  • Day nears for restarting Japan's fast-breeder reactor - the world's only such reactor

    Monju, the world’s only fast-breeder reactor, achieved criticality in April 1994; in December 1995 a coolant loop leaked more than 700 kilograms of molten sodium, releasing toxic fumes and damaging the plant; plant managers tried to cover up the accident, but covertly recorded videos were leaked to the press; there followed fourteen years of repairs and redesigns of safety measures and attempts to rebuild public trust by Monju’s operator

  • U.S. nuclear power plants not well protected, vulnerable to attack

    U.S. nuclear power plants are poorly protected; guards are grossly underpaid — in many cases, they make less than the janitors at the facilities they guard; many are hired off the street and given less than a week’s worth of training; says a former CIA officer who visited three nuclear plants to research the topic: “I was told by many individuals during my research that it was common to hear discussions among guards about where they would hide if there were an attack”

  • Metal mist will not choke off controlled nuclear fusion

    Fusion reactors — experimental reactors called tokamaks — are doughnut-shaped devices that contain ionized gas, or plasma, at temperatures of more than 100 million degrees; it was feared that fine metallic dust generated inside the containment vessel would choke off the controlled nuclear fusion; scientists now find this is not the case

  • U.S. reluctant to adopt new nuclear reactor technology

    Generation IV — or “pebble bed” — reactor is powered by fuel in the form of spheres rather than rods; the reactor runs far hotter than existing reactors, and produce 30 percent more electricity from a given amount of fuel; the drawback: weapons proliferation; to burn spent fuel in fast reactors, it has to be reprocessed to extract plutonium, which can also be used in weapons