As part of Nuclear Science Week, four scientists from Idaho National Laboratory answered questions for a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" Q&A-style event. "We thought it would be great to start a conversation about the future of advanced nuclear energy, including reactor designs, fuel types, industry engagement and some of the ideal uses for advanced nuclear systems," INL Director of Nuclear Systems Design and Analysis Phil Sharpe wrote.
The US needs to focus on building new reactors, as it cannot afford to fall behind as a leader in nuclear energy technology, writes Lawrence Weber. "It is time for us -- and 'us' means everybody -- to quit squabbling about petty differences and start working toward the survival of our country," he writes.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking it to make regulations to support the nuclear and coal industries as Energy Secretary Rick Perry proposed. "I encourage you to ensure that coal-fired and nuclear baseload units, which make our electric delivery system more resilient and provide essential reliability services, are appropriately valued and compensated for their beneficial attributes," he wrote.
The International Youth Nuclear Congress and the World Association of Nuclear Operators signed an agreement to cooperate on initiatives related to the younger generation of nuclear professionals. The groups may now work together on boosting professional development opportunities and making young workers familiar with WANO.
The Nikkei business daily reported that Kansai Electric Power is expected to decommission Units 1 and 2 at its Ohi nuclear power plant in Japan because of rising costs to meet safety standards. The utility issued a statement that it has not made a decision and that it is preparing its application to restart the reactors.
Pierre-Franck Chevet, head of France's nuclear regulator ASN, said he sees a rise in systemic safety risks in nuclear reactors worldwide, compounded by operators' financial difficulties. "There are unprecedented safety issues that we did not have 10-15 years ago in the day-to-day operation of a nuclear fleet," he said.
The Trump administration is ready to give nuclear and coal the recognition they deserve in the US energy mix, said Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va. He said the grid needs reliable baseload electricity sources for stability, and the government should ensure that no more coal or nuclear plants are retired until other energy sources can be shown to be as reliable.
At an informational briefing with the public, the California Coastal Commission reaffirmed its 2015 decision to permit Southern California Edison's closed San Onofre nuclear generating station to store its used nuclear fuel for now on site, but also said it plans to push federal officials to address the issue. Commissioner Mark Vargas noted "an urgency to this matter to accelerate the movement from the federal government to move this away from the coast."
Former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the US needs a consent-based process for storing the nation's used nuclear fuel, noting that Texas has applied to provide a temporary storage site. "In Europe, in Scandinavia, for example, a consent-based process has actually led to competition for a site, and it's moving forward," Moniz said.
South Korean lawmakers and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy recently discussed whether South Korea needs consent from the US under the countries' cooperation agreement to construct two nuclear power plants in Saudi Arabia. Though the APR 1400 reactors in question are technologically independent, the ministry said US consent is required because they are being built with technology and components of the US and in a country with no nuclear-energy agreement with the US.
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