The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is confident the nation's nuclear power plants will remain operating safely during the coronavirus outbreak and that "social distancing" regulations won't prevent inspectors from overseeing the facilities. "The regional office's qualified inspectors, supported as needed by headquarters staff, can maintain adequate oversight of operating nuclear power plants," said NRC Region 1 spokesman Neil Sheehan.
Operations to transfer the spent fuel at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California will continue even though some other decommissioning work has been halted by the state's "safe at home" directive, put in place due to the coronavirus outbreak. "With the protocols we have in place, it is safe to continue fuel transfer operations," said Southern California Edison chief nuclear officer Doug Bauder.
American Electric Power has extended its contract with Westinghouse Electric Co. for supplying AEP's D.C. Cook Nuclear Plant in Bridgman, Mich., with nuclear fuel assemblies and other services. Westinghouse will deliver 15 additional batches of fuel assemblies for Units 1 and 2 at the D.C. Cook site.
Swedish power firm Vattenfall will produce a pilot study with Estonia's Fermi Energia to determine whether the cost conditions, licensing and technology are right for developing a small modular reactor project in Estonia. Fortum and several other entities are also involved in the study.
Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power was premature and will slow its ability to meet its climate goals compared with other European countries that have decided to keep nuclear in their energy mix, says FORATOM director-general Yves Desbazeille. "By combining intermittent renewables with flexible nuclear, Europe will be able to decarbonize its electricity system, whilst at the same time ensuring security of supply -- at an affordable cost," he says.
Russia's state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom wants to take what it has learned from developing small nuclear reactors for icebreakers and expand into developing small modular reactor projects. Rosatom acting CEO for Central and Southern Africa Ryan Collyer told a conference that the SMRs could be used for electricity generation, water desalination and heat production.
Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, says during a crisis like the coronavirus outbreak the need for steady power generating capacity makes nuclear plants a crucial element of power systems. The coronavirus disruptions highlight how much societies rely on electricity, including to power the medical equipment for treating the growing numbers of sick people, Birol says.
Xcel Energy says it is creating sleeping areas at its Minnesota nuclear power plants in Monticello and near Red Wing in case essential staff members need to work extra shifts during the coronavirus outbreak. "If circumstances change, we are prepared to sequester our critical employees in plants, control rooms and control centers to protect them from the spreading illness," Xcel said.
The 43,000-square-foot former training center for the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, complete with classrooms, a conference room, kitchenette and an observation area, is on the market for $2.2 million. What will happen to the TMI control room simulator is still up in the air, due to security concerns.
KSB has signed a memorandum of understanding to help develop the primary pumps for Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor. The pump circulates fuel salt from the reactor's core to its primary heat exchangers.