• NRC 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.

  • Robots 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.

  • U.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.

  • What 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.

  • Responders provide technical expertise in case of nuclear weapons accidents

    Decades ago, technical experts from the national labs responded in an ad hoc manner to accidents involving nuclear weapons, called “broken arrows.” Thirty-two such accidents have occurred since the 1950s, so the Accident Response Group at Sandia Lab was created about five decades ago to provide technical expertise in assessing and safely resolving nuclear weapons accidents.

  • France sued for “crimes against humanity” South Pacific nuclear tests

    French Polynesia is taking France to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for carrying out nuclear weapons tests in French Polynesia, a Polynesian opposition leader said on Tuesday. France carried out 193 nuclear weapons tests on islands in the archipelago between 1960 and 1996 until French President Jacques Chirac ended nuclear testing.

  • MIT Energy Initiative study reports on the future of nuclear energy

    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 safety board slams Energy Department plan to weaken oversight

    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.

  • What are coastal nuclear power plants doing to address climate threats?

    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.

  • Better decisions during a radiological emergency

    Whether a catastrophe is natural or man-made, emergency managers need to respond quickly with the optimal solution. Making decisions on the fly can be difficult, which is why significant planning must go into a disaster response strategy. Many conversations need to happen, and they need to cover a range of possible scenarios. The Radiation Decontamination tool Rad Decon was developed to facilitate those very discussions during a radiological emergency.

  • Scavenger hunt for simulated nuclear materials

    Competing in a fictitious high-stakes scenario, a group of scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) bested two dozen other teams in a months-long, data-driven scavenger hunt for simulated radioactive materials in a virtual urban environment. The competition platform was also built and managed by Lab researchers.

  • Nuclear waste: The cost to Americans is in the billions

    Since the Manhattan Project officially began in 1942, the United States has faced ever-increasing stores of nuclear waste. Stanford’s Rodney Ewing says that the U.S. failure to implement a permanent solution for nuclear waste storage and disposal is costing Americans billions of dollars a year.

  • Preparing for quick radiation diagnostic test in case of a nuclear disaster

    Researchers are attempting to create a better diagnostic test for radiation exposure that potentially could save thousands of lives. A new study compiled a list of genes reported to be affected by external ionizing radiation (IR), and assessed their performance as possible biomarkers that could be used to calculate the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body.

  • Enhanced detection of nuclear events thanks to deep learning

    A deep neural network running on an ordinary desktop computer is interpreting highly technical data related to national security as well as — and sometimes better than — today’s best automated methods or even human experts.

  • Detecting the threat of nuclear weapons

    Will the recent U.S. withdrawal from a 2015 accord that put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program make it easier for Iran to pursue the bomb in secret? Not likely, according to Scott Kemp, an associate professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT. “The most powerful insights into Iran’s nuclear program come from traditional intelligence, not from inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency,” says Kemp. But covert nuclear-weapon programs, whether in Iran, North Korea, or elsewhere in the world, are a major unsolved problem, according to Kemp.