The Energy Department's Hanford Site in Washington has reported that 16 additional workers have tested positive for the coronavirus, bringing the facility's total to 244. The 586-square mile former plutonium production complex employs 11,000 workers.
Today marks the inaugural World Nuclear Energy Day, celebrating nuclear power's contribution to clean energy around the world. The day also marks the date in 1942 when the Chicago Pile-1 went critical as the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, and in 1957 when Pennsylvania's Shippingport reactor achieved first criticality.
Hearings are expected to start today on a bill introduced by Republican Ohio state Rep. Jim Hoops that would delay House Bill 6's annual subsidies for two nuclear plants for one year and base those subsidies on a third-party audit. The bill would also eliminate HB6's decoupling provision allowing utilities to receive a guaranteed level of revenue from ratepayers for years.
A Government Accountability Office report concludes that the Energy Department's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico needs better planning to prevent it from running out of repository space. The GAO report notes that the department has an unreliable schedule for expanding the disposal vaults in light of plans to increase plutonium pit production, which will create more waste needing disposal.
GE Hitachi Nuclear has received a final safety evaluation report for the first of several licensing topical reports the company has submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its BWRX-300 small modular reactor. GEH President and CEO Jay Wileman says the "LTR will accelerate our commercialization efforts as we remain focused on making the first SMR operational later this decade."
The village of Shimamaki, Japan, plans to introduce a bill that would prohibit nuclear waste from entering the area after the adjacent town of Suttsu began the first step in the selection process for a final high-level radioactive waste disposal site. Similar ordinances have been passed in the towns of Horonobe, Biei and Urakawa.
The UK government is asking communities interested in hosting a planned prototype nuclear fusion power plant to submit their site nominations for the Spherical Tokamak for Energy Production project by March 2021. Business and Energy Secretary Alok Sharma says the project to commercialize fusion energy offers communities an "incredible opportunity to secure their place in the history books."
The UK's "Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution," which describes plans to decarbonize electric power and other sectors, is welcome news for new nuclear power projects, though "it lacks some specifics," writes William Bodel of the University of Manchester. "Achieving net-zero is a vast undertaking, and recognizing that nuclear can make a substantial contribution if properly supported is an important step towards hitting that target," he notes.
Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good told a sustainable business summit that nuclear power is a key component of the company's plans to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. "Nuclear, for Duke Energy, is a foundational resource and it is a clean resource," Good said.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to give final approval on Wednesday for the sale of Unit 2 of FirstEnergy's Three Mile Island plant to Utah-based EnergySolutions for decommissioning. Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection had called for hearings on the license transfer, but the NRC declined to hold them.
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