The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given Southern Nuclear Operating Company approval to increase the capacity of Units 1 and 2 of its Farley nuclear power plant in Alabama. The plant will increase its present maximum output of 910 megawatts to 944 MW for Unit 1, and 953 MW for Unit 2.
Nuclear power reactors in South Carolina and Missouri face the greatest chance of an earthquake leading to a meltdown, with Duke Energy's H.B. Robinson NPP in South Carolina at the highest risk, according to an analysis of Nuclear Regulatory Commission data by the Union of Concerned Scientists. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell says Duke's license renewal application includes "binding commitments" to upgrade the Robinson facility and assess the earthquake risks.
A man in Montana was sentenced to four months in prison and will pay a $2,500 fine and $9,977 in restitution for dumping radioactive oilfield waste at an abandoned North Dakota gas station. US Attorney for Montana Kurt Alme said the man's actions "not only defrauded a company that had hired him to properly dispose of oil drilling waste, but they also put the environment and the public at risk by deliberately abandoning the contaminated materials at an unsecure, defunct gas station property."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska,, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and 30 other lawmakers have sent a letter to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees calling for the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act to be included in the final National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2021. "The Department of Defense would be able to deploy advanced microreactors to bolster reliability, resilience and security," Murkowski said.
Residents raised concerns at a virtual National Nuclear Security Administration forum about plans to vent waste containers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico to relieve built-up radioactive hydrogen, potentially allowing the radioactive hydrogen isotope tritium to escape. NNSA has not set a release date, but it expects to do the venting before winter.
Experts in South Korea are debating the country's phaseout of nuclear power since it's one of the few countries increasing its nuclear power capacity, with five reactors under construction. South Korea will continue to operate nuclear plants through 2080, though it plans to reduce nuclear power capacity from 75% to 50% by 2035.
Water shortages stemming from climate change-induced droughts may cause nuclear power plants that rely on fresh water for cooling to experience a decrease in operating capacity, experts say. Some utilities have established drought-monitoring task forces, while nuclear plants like Palo Verde in Arizona use recycled effluent water from urban areas.
The Energy Department and NASA have formally agreed to expand their current space nuclear power cooperation to include other science and engineering projects. The new agreement includes creating joint working groups that will focus on nuclear energy infrastructure for a lunar base, nuclear propulsion systems for reaching Mars and projects supporting planetary defense.
In a meeting on Wednesday, watchdog groups and former regulators urged New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state regulators to reject plans to extend operations at the Energy Department's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant beyond its planned 2024 closure date. "If WIPP can be expanded as long as DOE wants for whatever DOE wants, there won't be other repositories," said Dan Hancock of the Southwest Information and Research Center.
The Energy Department has removed 11 million tons of uranium mill tailings during its Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project at the site in Moab, Utah. With the project nearing its end, federal cleanup Director Russell McCallister says project members will partner with Energy's Office of Legacy Management and local stakeholders to determine what the final remediation of the site will look like.
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