Nuclear power

  • U.S., South Korea delay nuclear fuel deal

    The president of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, has been campaigning to get the United States to lift the ban on South Korea from enriching uranium and processing spent nuclear fuel. The ban was part of a 1972 treaty, which was set to expire next March. A deal appeared to be on the way at some point this year, but officials from both countries said the deadline would be extended to 2016. What did not help the negotiations were statements by some South Korean officials that the country should build its own nuclear weapons reather than rely on U.S. nuclear umbrella.

  • Energy Department to invest in used nuclear fuel storage research

    As part of its efforts to develop an effective strategy for the safe and secure storage and management of used nuclear fuel, the Energy Department the other day announced a new dry storage research and development project. In the Energy Department’s budget request presented last week, the department requested $60 million for nuclear waste research and development.

  • Former NRC chairman: all 104 U.S. nuclear reactors suffer from “irreparable” safety issues

    According to former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chairman Gregory Jaczko, all 104 nuclear reactors in the United States currently have irreparable safety issues and should be shut down and replaced. Jaczko was the NRC chairman from 2009 through 2012.

  • Critics: Fukushima-influenced U.S. nuclear accident response procedures are flawed

    The U.S. government is using the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan two years ago as a model for rewriting its plans on how to respond to radiation contamination — emphasizing long-term cleanup and return of residents to affected areas instead of emergency response. Critics say this is a mistake.

  • Nuclear fusion could power a rocket to take humans to Mars

    NASA estimates a round-trip human expedition to Mars would take more than four years using current technology. The sheer amount of chemical rocket fuel needed in space would be extremely expensive — the launch costs alone would be more than $12 billion. Now, astronauts could be a step closer to our nearest planetary neighbor through a manipulation of nuclear fusion, the same energy that powers the sun and stars.

  • U.S. nuclear industry faces a wave of nuclear power station retirements

    A wave of U.S. nuclear power station retirements is on the horizon. The typical design life of a nuclear power plant is 40 years. There are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States, and their average age is 34 years — only a few years short of, and fast approaching, their design life. Almost 30 U.S. commercial and research reactors already have started decommissioning. A $400 million is regarded as the bargain basement price tag for cleaning up a single reactor.

  • U.K. outlines its long-term nuclear future

    Over the next two decades it is forecast that, globally, there will be £930 billion investment in building new reactors and £250 billion in decommissioning those that are coming off line. The nuclear new build program in the United Kingdom alone could generate up to 40,000 jobs in the sector at its peak. Government publishes industrial strategy to enable the UK to seize the opportunities for economic growth in the nuclear industry.

  • Day of the nuclear battery nears

    Experts in nuclear physics have helped develop research toward a “nuclear battery,” which could revolutionize the concept of portable power by packing in up to a million times more energy compared to a conventional battery.

  • Instead of a renaissance, U.S. nuclear energy industry is facing tough times

    Five years ago, U.S. nuclear industry executives and energy industry analysts talked about an American nuclear renaissance, with up to twenty new reactors to be added to the nation’s stock. Things are very different today, however, and the U.S. nuclear energy industry, rather than expanding, is fighting to hold on.

  • NRC rejects plan for Maryland nuclear reactor

    A plan to build a third nuclear reactor in southern Maryland was postponed last week as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) upheld an earlier decision to squash the project. the primary reason for the rejection is the fact that the applicant’s parent company, Electricite de France, is 85 percent owned by the French government. U.S. law forbids foreign ownership of U.S. nuclear reactors.

  • Ohio’s Perry nuclear power plant was vulnerable to sabotage

    A report issued last week said that operators at the Perry Nuclear Power Plant in Ohio found a vulnerability in the security of the plant last year, and that that vulnerability could have put the public in harm’s way. The utility operating the nuclear plant reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that the plant’s security program for monitoring underground pathways and other unattended openings were insufficient to detect and prevent unauthorized access to the protected area.

  • Michigan’s Palisades nuclear power plant has significant safety issues

    A recent report  by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) lists the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in Michigan as one of three plants in the United States with significant safety episodes or “near-misses” over the last three years.

  • U.S. nuclear industry resists stricter, post-Fukushima safety measures

    Since the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) have been debating whether or not to impose even stricter safety measures on the thirty-one U.S. boiling water reactors (BWRs). Utility companies have been fighting any new safety regulations, arguing that the security measures they have are more than enough.

  • Does the U.S. face a nuclear power exit?

    In a 2012 report, the Obama administration announced that it was “jumpstarting” the U.S. nuclear industry. Because of the industry’s history of problems, cost overruns, and construction delays, financial markets have been wary of backing new nuclear construction for decades. The supposed “nuclear renaissance” proclaimed in the first decade of this century never materialized. Then came Fukushima, a disaster that prompted countries around the world to ask: Should nuclear power be part of the energy future?

  • Radioactive leaks at Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation

    Earlier this month, Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced that a radioactive waste tank at one of the nation’s most contaminated nuclear sites is leaking, bringing more bad news to Washington’s Hanford nuclear reservation. The 177 tanks at the plant, which hold millions of gallons of highly radioactive waste from plutonium production, are way past their intended 20-year life span.