The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for energy workforce members who are essential to "keep the lights on in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic." "Those workers' duties can only be performed on-site, usually in close quarters, where full adherence to social distancing guidelines is impossible," the FERC commissioners wrote in a letter.
A Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative report shows that a nuclear power plant typically contributes at least $400 million a year to the local community, but those communities can experience "swift, severe, and lasting" socioeconomic challenges after a plant closes and is decommissioned. The report recommends that on a national level there should be "improved coordination of federal agencies focusing on additional research, efficient deployment of resources and the provision of planning assistance would be a demonstrable benefit to host communities."
Rita Baranwal, former assistant secretary for the Energy Department's Office of Nuclear Energy, has been named the new vice president of nuclear energy and chief nuclear officer for the Electric Power Research Institute. Baranwal, who resigned from the DOE last week, said she looks forward "to working with EPRI's incredibly talented team to find answers to pressing nuclear energy challenges during the clean energy transition."
Workers at the Department of Energy's Hanford Site in Washington have begun removing the last remaining nuclear waste in Tank AX-104 at the AX Tank Farm, restarting work that paused in August 2019. A deadline set by a federal court requires two more tanks to be emptied by the end of June, but an extension of at least eight months has been given due to a work slowdown related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Pstrak of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of Nuclear Safety Materials and Safeguards told a New Mexico Spent Fuel Transportation Symposium that the NRC is expected to have a spent fuel transportation readiness report available for public review by May. The NRC is considering applications for private spent nuclear fuel repositories in Texas and southeast New Mexico.
Russia's Special Design and Technological Bureau of Applied Robotics in Moscow has developed a remote-controlled mobile robot with a special electric cutting tool for dismantling reactor graphite stacks. The robot, which is undergoing trial operations, can lift and carry up to 220 pounds, "which is sufficient to extract the graphite blocks," says Gennady Dyogtev, general director of SEZ Technopolis Moscow.
The UK and EU signed a post-Brexit Nuclear Cooperation Agreement that will facilitate nuclear industry trade and the transfer of nuclear materials. "The UK has already concluded NCAs with third countries, such as the United States, Australia and Canada in order to replace the existing Euratom NCAs with these countries." say European Commission sources.
Scientists around the world rallied to the defense of a New Jersey high school student who used a ceramic plate with a uranium oxide glaze to demonstrate a Geiger counter, prompting officials to evacuate the school. "I want him to know that his curiosity is appreciated, his interest in the world of nuclear science and technology is appreciated and there's a lot of us rooting for him," said University of Illinois Ph.D. student Amanda Bachmann.
The Energy Information Administration's latest electric generator inventory report notes that of the 9.1 gigawatts of electric generating capacity scheduled to retire in the US this year, 56%, or 5.1 GW, represents the planned shutdowns of five nuclear reactors. "If all five reactors close as scheduled, 2021 will set a record for the most annual nuclear capacity retirements ever," the report states.
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