• A New Way to Remove Contaminants from Nuclear Wastewater

    Nuclear power continues to expand globally, propelled, in part, by the fact that it produces few greenhouse gas emissions while providing steady power output. But along with that expansion comes an increased need for dealing with the large volumes of water used for cooling these plants, which becomes contaminated with radioactive isotopes that require special long-term disposal. New method concentrates radionuclides in a small portion of a nuclear plant’s wastewater, allowing the rest to be recycled.

  • Helping Keep U.S. Nuclear Deterrent Safe from Radiation

    Advanced modeling speeds up weapons research, development and qualification. It also lets researchers model changes in experimental conditions that increase the total radiation dose, change how fast a device gets that dose, and mix and match destructive elements like neutrons, energy and heat in environments that cannot be recreated in experimental facilities.

  • Lessons Learnt from Fukushima Soil Decontamination

    Following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, the Japanese authorities decided to carry out major decontamination works in the affected area, which covers more than 9,000 km2. The European Geosciences Union (EGU) has published a collection of studies providing an overview of the decontamination strategies used and their effectiveness.

  • Today, Everyone’s a Nuclear Spy

    There was a time when tracking nuclear threats was the domain of secret agents, specialists at high-powered government intelligence agencies, and think-tank experts. Not anymore. Amy Zegart writes that today, the world of new nuclear sleuths looks like the Star Wars bar scene. What has empowered these nuclear detectives and made their work possible is the fact that in the last 15-20 years, commercial satellites have become common – and their capabilities, although not at the level of spy satellites, are not too far behind. Open-source amateur nuclear sleuthing comes with risks, but Zegart says that despite these risks, the democratization of nuclear-threat intelligence is likely to be a boon to the cause of nonproliferation.

  • Worry: Iran Said It Will Continue to Enrich Uranium Beyond Radioactive Isotopes Level

    Tehran sent a letter to the UN Thursday saying that it was “determined to resolutely continue” enriching uranium. This came following an EU letter criticizing the Iranian government’s decision, and a Russian firm suspending cooperation in Iran’s uranium enrichment program at the underground Fordo facility.

  • Newly Proposed Barrier Could Have Limited Radiation Release at Chernobyl, Fukushima

    Following the most serious nuclear accidents in the history — at Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011), in which release of radiation occurred as a result of core meltdown — many countries around the world have committed to phase out nuclear power. Afuture powered by nuclear energy, however, may be neither a lost cause nor a game of “Russian roulette,” according to researchers.

  • The U.S. Wants to Bury SC’s Plutonium Stockpile Forever. Its New Home Isn’t Sure It Wants It.

    How long will it take for weapons-grade plutonium stockpile, temporarily stored at the South Carolina’s Savanah River nuclear weapons complex, to decay, that it, to have its radioactivity reduced to a level at which it will no longer pose radiation risks or turned into nuclear weapons? About seven billion years, or a little more than double the age of planet Earth. The government’s plutonium plan calls for expanding a nuclear waste burial ground located inside an abandoned salt mine near Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP. But New Mexico objects.

  • Dealing with the Soviet Nuclear Legacy

    On 29 August 1949, the Soviet Union conducted their first nuclear test. Over a 40-year period, they conducted 456 nuclear explosions at Semipalatinsk, in eastern Kazakhstan — 116 aboveground and 340 underground. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of the scientists and military personnel abandoned the site and fled the country, leaving behind large quantities of nuclear materials, completely unsecured. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) has been quietly helping Kazakhstan deal with the Soviet nuclear legacy.

  • Operations in French Nuclear Power Plant Suspended after Monday Tremor

    Following a strong earthquake Monday in the Drôme and Ardèche regions in south-east France, EDF (Électricité de France) has ordered the suspension of power production at the Cruas-Meysse power station. The magnitude 5.4 earthquake shook the area at 11:52 a.m. Monday. Of France’s nineteen active nuclear power plants, five plants are located in seismically active zones.

  • New Reactor Designs Will Degrade Waste More Rapidly

    Renewed interest in nuclear power as a viable option for generating electricity has been accompanied by steady progress in reactor design. Advanced reactors offer the promise of greater fuel efficiency and less radioactive waste generation compared with the water-cooled models that have dominated the nuclear power landscape for decades. Newer designs, however, will operate at higher temperatures and use highly corrosive coolants — like liquid metal, molten salt, or high-temperature gas — all of which would rapidly degrade many of the materials used in conventional nuclear reactors.

  • India-Pakistan Nuclear War Could Kill Millions, Lead to Global Starvation

    A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could, over the span of less than a week, kill 50-125 million people—more than the death toll during all six years of World War II, according to new research. The researchers calculated that an India-Pakistan war could inject as much as 80 billion pounds of thick, black smoke into Earth’s atmosphere. That smoke would block sunlight from reaching the ground, driving temperatures around the world down by an average of between 3.5-9 degrees Fahrenheit for several years. Worldwide food shortages would likely come soon after. Today, India and Pakistan each have about 150 nuclear warheads at their disposal, and that number is expected to climb to more than 200 by 2025.

  • Containing a Nuclear Accident with Ground-up Minerals

    Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are developing a promising new way to prevent the spread of radioactive contamination and contain the hot molten mass that develops within a nuclear reactor during a catastrophic accident. A team of scientists discovered and patented a process for injecting sand-like minerals into the core of a nuclear reactor during an accident to contain and slow down the progression of a meltdown.

  • A Meltdown in Nuclear Security

    A commando raid on a nuclear power plant seems the stuff of Hollywood. So why are nuclear security experts so worried? It ranks among the worst-case scenarios for a nuclear power plant: an all-out assault or stealth infiltration by well-trained, heavily armed attackers bent on triggering a nuclear blast, sparking a nuclear meltdown or stealing radioactive material. Under pressure from a cash-strapped nuclear energy industry increasingly eager to slash costs, the commission in a little-noticed vote in October 2018 halved the number of force-on-force exercises conducted at each plant every cycle. Four months later, it announced it would overhaul how the exercises are evaluated to ensure that no plant would ever receive more than the mildest rebuke from regulators – even when the commandos set off a simulated nuclear disaster that, if real, would render vast swaths of the U.S. uninhabitable. Nuclear security experts, consultants, law enforcement veterans and former NRC commissioners are nothing short of alarmed. “You can’t afford to be wrong once,” says one expert.

  • The Once and Future Threat of Nuclear Weapon Testing

    The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the central security instrument of the United States and the world community. It is based on a strategic bargain between the five nuclear weapon states in the NPT (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China) and the 185 non-nuclear-weapon parties to the treaty. The current worldwide moratorium on nuclear weapon testing and the intended ultimate conversion of that ban to legally binding treaty status by bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force are essential to the long-term viability of this strategic bargain.

  • Data May Point to Second Blast at Russian Test Site

    Researchers at a Norwegian institute believe that there may have been two explosions, not one, at the Russian naval test site on the White Sea earlier this month, an incident that killed at least five people and raised new questions about Russia’s weapons research.