Thursday, November 30, 2023

Here we go again… And, of course, Westinghouse’s CEO “declined to name the interested companies.”

BNN Bloomberg | Commodities

NRC Issues Confirmatory Order to ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: IV-23-011 November 29, 2023
CONTACT: Victor Dricks, 817-200-1128

NRC Issues Confirmatory Order to ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a Confirmatory Order to ProTechnics Division of Core Laboratories, documenting mutually agreed upon actions to address regulatory compliance issues identified during a routine inspection at the company’s headquarters in Houston, Texas. ProTechnics uses radioactive materials licensed by the NRC to perform diagnostic studies in oil, gas and geothermal wells.

NRC inspectors cited six proposed violations involving the company’s failure to notify and seek NRC approval for the abandonment of a well logging source, to request an extension for a well logging source in temporary storage, to maintain records or calculations demonstrating compliance with federal limits on the disposal of radioisotope tracers in the Gulf of Mexico, and to monitor a group of exposed workers following the loss of their dosimeters, among other proposed violations.

The proposed violations are described in detail in NRC’s July 7 inspection report.

Before making a final enforcement decision, the NRC provided the company with an opportunity to request a predecisional enforcement conference or seek alternative dispute resolution. ProTechnics requested ADR mediation and met with NRC officials in October to discuss corrective actions. A preliminary settlement agreement was reached at the session, and the issues agreed upon were incorporated into the Confirmatory Order.

Up & Atom – Up & Atom 

"The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a final rule and associated regulatory guide providing an alternative avenue for small modular reactors (SMRs) and advanced reactors to satisfy emergency preparedness requirements. The long-anticipated rulemaking allows SMRs and advanced reactor license applicants to develop performance-based emergency preparedness programs instead of using the current prescriptive offsite radiological emergency planning requirements originally designed for large light-water reactors (LWRs)."

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Prairie Island out of commission until January

An equipment issue at the Prairie Island plant near Red Wing hasn’t impacted electric service, but it could lead to higher fuel costs that are passed down to Xcel’s customers on their m…

How did 'hot' radioactive material end up in a Houston scrap yard?

A radioactive threat found in the middle of America's fourth largest city raises alarm

A Houston Police Department officer driving to work last month felt the buzzing vibration alert of a cell-phone sized device provided by the federal government as part of a grant program.

The buzzing was no phone call. It was a warning, about dangerous levels of radiation, right in the midst of the fourth largest city in America.

And the detector that found it was one of 2,000 carried in Houston – and 56,000 nationwide – aimed at preventing terrorists from slipping a radiation-spewing “dirty bomb” onto American streets.

Now, budget fights in Congress and a House majority seeking major spending cuts mean the office that supplied those detectors is on the chopping block.

During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing last week, representatives questioned the work of – and funding for – huge swaths of the federal security agencies, often focusing on border security.

But testimony that day from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas brought to light the work of one lesser-known arms of anti-terror work: the agency’s Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office.

He offered it as an example of where the system worked as intended, supporting a local agency to ward off disaster before it happened.

How 'hot' material ended up in a Houston scrap yard

As the detector buzzed Oct. 16, the Houston officer first suspected a false alarm. He circled his car back around to the same street. It went off again.

The detector, similar to a Geiger counter, was built to pick up gamma radiation. Soon, larger units arrived to help triangulate the radiation’s source.

DHS provides some officers backpack-sized devices. The agency says they can detect material as far as a mile away. It also provides truck-sized devices that can scan for radiation near major events like the Super Bowl and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Houston’s sensors led them to a recycling yard on the city’s northwest side. There, the bomb squad isolated containers the size of paint cans. Officers only needed to wear specialized protective gear when they were closest to the material, past a “turn-back line” alerted by their detectors.

The radiation was not coming from a dirty bomb. It was only harmful within a few feet. But it was real radiation.

The source was Cesium-137, a material used in commercial and industrial settings. It is found in medical radiation therapy devices to treat cancer. As the byproduct of nuclear fission, it’s also found at the scene of nuclear reactor disasters — think Chernobyl.

In Houston, the radiation-emitting canisters had been used as flow gauges at a chemical plant. Instead of being properly stored, they had ended up at the scrap yard.

A crew carefully recovered four radioactive sources and transferred them to a U.S. Department of Energy storage facility near San Antonio.

Texas authorities are investigating the chain of custody of the material to determine how it ended up in the scrap yard and how long it had been there. Owners of the yard, which police have not named, will not face penalties because they cooperated with authorities, said Sgt. James Luplow, a member of the HPD bomb squad.

“This is not a very common occurrence. We routinely encounter radioactive material, but nothing at this level,” Luplow said. “It’s a textbook example of having a lot of people cruising around with these detectors.”

The ongoing threat of radioactive waste

Radioactive material ends up in scrap yards and causes major headaches for workers and those called to dispose of it.

In 1984, a scrap metal sale in Mexico led to one of the largest radiation disasters in U.S. history. About 600 tons of radioactive steel from Juarez ended up in 28 states. In that case, Cobalt-60 pellets caused radiation poisoning where junkyard employees became nauseated, had their fingernails turn black and suffered sterilization.

With a 30-year half-life, cesium isotopes can present a long-lasting threat if not properly disposed of at a storage facility.

Radioactive contamination of scrap materials happens far more frequently than people realize, said Jessica Bufford, a senior program officer at the non-profit global security organization Nuclear Threat Initiative.

“We’re concerned that a determined adversary like a criminal group or terrorists or lone wolf actor could steal a cesium device and use it as part of a dirty bomb to cause panic,” Bufford said. “It could be transported in powder form easily through water or air and spread over a large area.”

The material found in the Houston scrap yard was discarded waste, not a dirty bomb. But authorities say the need for detecting the radiation is the same in either scenario.

“You’d be detecting bombs,” said Luplow, the Houston sergeant. “But we’d much prefer to find it just in the material form, and it’s a lot easier to deal with.”

'No border security, no funding'

The Houston incident first came to light when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified last week in front of the House panel.

Without naming the location, agency or date of the incident, Mayorkas said cryptically: “a local law enforcement officer equipped with some of the equipment we provide to detect radiological and nuclear material was wearing a device that detected abandoned material in a very unsafe location that could have caused tremendous harm to the people in the surrounding community.”

A DHS official referred further questions about details on the incident to Houston police.

The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction office within DHS, created in 2018, had a five-year sunset clause and will shutter without reauthorization by Congress.

The Biden administration specifically lobbied key committees to save the DHS office and the jobs of roughly 230 employees plus 400 contractors. DHS officials want to see the office permanently funded. With a budget of $400 million a year, the staff works to detect chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.

The office works with 14 “high-risk” urban areas: New York City; Newark and Jersey City; Los Angeles and Long Beach; the Washington, D.C. area; Houston; Chicago; Atlanta; Miami; Denver; Phoenix; San Francisco; Seattle; Boston; and New Orleans.

GOP members of the House Freedom Caucus have blasted the DHS border policy under Mayorkas and have demanded the cuts as leverage for change.

Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, and 14 other Republicans signed on to a letter seeking no DHS funding until the changes: “No border security, no funding,” he wrote in a letter to colleagues.

Without approval, the office was set to shutter on Dec. 21. The current continuing resolution passed by Congress and signed by President Biden last week punts that deadline to February.

Nick Penzenstadler is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team. Contact him at or @npenzenstadler, or on Signal at (720) 507-5273.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Dismantling the San Onofre is more than 60% completed

Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant is more than 60% completed

Work in the reactor cavities is about 96 percent done. When finished, the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water will be purified to the level of acceptable drinking water so it can safely be discharged into the ocean.


NRC Makes Available Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant License Renewal Application

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 23-075 November 16, 2023
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200

NRC Makes Available Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant License Renewal Application

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has made available an application from Pacific Gas & Electric to renew the operating licenses for Diablo Canyon Power Plant, Units 1 and 2, in Avila Beach, California.

PG&E filed on Nov. 7 an application seeking to renew the licenses for an additional 20 years of operation. Diablo Canyon’s pressurized-water reactors, about 12 miles southwest of San Luis Obispo, are currently licensed to operate through Nov. 2, 2024, for Unit 1 and through Aug. 26, 2025, for Unit 2.

The NRC staff is reviewing the application to determine if it is sufficiently complete to begin the agency’s extensive safety and environmental reviews. If the application is determined to be complete, the staff will docket it and publish a notice of opportunity to request an adjudicatory hearing before the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The reactors’ licenses will then remain valid, under an exemption from agency regulations, until the agency’s review is complete.

Information about the license renewal process is available on the NRC website. A copy of the Diablo Canyon license renewal application will be available at the San Luis Obispo Library, 995 Palm St. in San Luis Obispo.

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Vermont Yankee - Pre-Notice of Distribution


Document Title:Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station - Pre-Notice of Disbursement from Decommissioning Trust
Document Type:Letter
Document Date:11/02/2023

Sunday, November 12, 2023

New Reactor Plans Smashed by Soaring Costs, ("Bloomberg News," 11/8/23)

  Will Wade, Bloomberg News, 8 Nov 2023


BLOOMBERG — NuScale Power Corp., the first company with US approval for a small nuclear reactor designis canceling plans to build a power plant for a Utah provider as costs surge. The move is a major setback to the burgeoning technology that has been heralded as the next era for atomic energy.

The company and Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems agreed to cancel the [self-styled]  Carbon Free Power Project, according to a statement Wednesday. NuScale shares slumped as much as 42%, the biggest intraday decline since the Portland, Oregon-based firm went public through a 2022 merger with a blank-check company.

The decision to terminate the project underscores the hurdles the industry faces to place the first so-called small modular reactor into commercial service in the country. NuScale is part of a wave of companies developing smaller reactors that will be manufactured in factories and assembled on site, a strategy that’s expected to make them faster and cheaper than conventional nuclear plants.

Salt Lake City-based UAMPS [Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems] supplies wholesale electric services to about 50 municipal utilities in the US West. The companies had said that UAMPS members or other utilities needed to commit to buying 80% of the project’s power for it to be feasible. NuScale has agreed to pay UAMPS a termination fee of $49.8 million. 

“The customer made it clear we needed to reach 80%, and that was just not achievable,” NuScale Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins said on a conference call Wednesday. “Once you’re on a dead horse, you dismount quickly. That’s where we are here.”

Critics have warned that costs for the NuScale project were climbing. The company said in 2021 it would deliver power for $58 a megawatt-hour, but that figure has jumped 53% to $89, according to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Read More: Nuclear Plant $16 Billion Over Budget Arrives for Atomic Revival

Nuclear energy has seen a recent resurgence as intensifying climate change boosts the appeal of the carbon-free power source. But the major costs involved in building new plants have been a stumbling block for the industrySouthern Co.’s Vogtle project is nearing completion and will be the first newly constructed US reactors in decades — but it came in billions over budgetOne of the promises of smaller reactors is that they were supposed to be easier to build, which would limit cost overruns.

The Carbon Free Power Project would have used six of NuScale’s 77-megawatt reactors, installed at Idaho National Laboratory. It had been expected to begin delivering power in 2029. 

The project, which was granted a $1.4 billion cost-sharing award with the Department of Energy in 2020, has received $232 million of that funding, according to the department. 

“We absolutely need advanced nuclear energy technology to meet ambitious clean energy goals,” the DOE said in a statement. “First-of-a-kind deployments, such as CFPP, can be difficult.”

—With assistance from Ari Natter.ed Nov 08, 2023
NuScale ends Utah project, in blow to US nuclear power ambitions
By Timothy Gardner and Manas Mishra, REUTERS, November 9, 2023

Nov 8 (Reuters) - (This Nov. 8 story has been corrected to show that the Energy Department provided $600 million to NuScale and others to commercialize small reactor technology, not $600 million provided to NuScale, in paragraph 2)

NuScale Power (SMR.N) said on Wednesday it has agreed with a power group in Utah to terminate the company's small modular reactor project, dealing a blow to U.S. ambitions for a wave of nuclear energy to fight climate change and sending NuScale's shares down 20%.

In 2020, the Department of Energy approved $1.35 billion over 10 years for the plant, known as the Carbon Free Power Project, subject to congressional appropriations. The department has provided NuScale and others about $600 million since 2014 to support commercialization of small reactor technologies.

NuScale had planned to develop the six-reactor 462 megawatt project with the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and launch it in 2030, but several towns pulled out of the project as costs rose.

John Hopkins, NuScale's president and CEO, said in a release that the company will continue with its other domestic and international customers to bring American small modular reactor (SMR) technology to market and increase the U.S. nuclear manufacturing bases.

NuScale hopes to build SMRs in Romania, Kazakhstan, Poland and Ukraine. Critics have warned that Russia's takeover of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine -- along with repeated shelling near it, power cuts, and perils to the plant's water cooling resources -- means that reactors, which can release toxic, radioactive materials when disasters strike, should not be built in the region.

NuScale's Utah plant was expected to be the first SMR to win a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for construction. But NuScale said it appeared unlikely the project will have enough subscription to continue toward deployment.

NuScale said in January the target price for power from the plant was $89 per megawatt hour, up 53% from the previous estimate of $58 per MWh, raising concerns about customers' willingness to pay.

An Energy Department spokesperson said it was unfortunate news, but added, "We believe the work accomplished to date on CFPP will be valuable for future nuclear energy projects.

"While not every project is guaranteed to succeed, DOE remains committed to doing everything we can to deploy these technologies to combat the climate crisis and increase access to clean energy," the spokesperson said.

Existing U.S. nuclear plants, which are larger, provide nearly half of the virtually carbon-free power generated in the U.S.

SMRs are meant to fit new applications such as replacing shut coal plants and being located in remote communities.

Backers have said the design was safer than today's reactors, but critics have said SMRs still produce hazardous nuclear waste.

So far, only NuScale's SMR design has been approved by the NRC.

The public U.S. money for NuScale was awarded through a non-competitive funding vehicle that came before the energy and climate bills passed during the Biden administration.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Timothy Gardner in Washington; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta, Krishna Chandra Eluri and Leslie Adler
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
NuScale small nuclear reactor project in Idaho canceled
Customers "dodge a debacle" as Utah utility UAMPS pulls the plug on the US' first SMR
By Peter Judge, Data Center Dynamics (data magazine,) November 9, 2023

Plans to build the US' first small modular reactor (SMR) in Idaho have been canceled.

The power utility Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), and the reactor company NuScale, have announced they will cancel the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), a small modular reactor (SMR) project that was to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

The data center industry has recently been eyeing up SMRs as a cost-effective way to acquire low-carbon energy. NuScale has signed a deal with blockchain firm Standard Power to build 24 of the units, each providing 77MW. However, in recent weeks, NuScale has faced investigation by lawyers, after a short seller report claimed that the Standard Power deal was likely to fail.

“We're happy for the communities and ratepayers who have dodged a huge financial debacle as a result of the cancellation of NuScale and UAMPS' proposed SMR project," said David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) and author of a critical 2022 analysis of the project.

"As we have repeatedly shown, this project and the other SMRs that are being hyped by the nuclear industry and its allies are simply too late, too expensive, too uncertain, and too risky," said Schlissel. "There are less risky and more proven alternatives for addressing growing energy needs and the global warming crisis.”

Explaining the decision, a joint statement on the UAMPS site yesterday said: “Despite significant efforts by both parties to advance the CFPP, it appears unlikely that the project will have enough subscription to continue toward deployment. UAMPS and NuScale have mutually determined that ending the project is the most prudent decision for both parties.”

UAMPS, a non-profit utility owned by the State of Utah, which provides power to states in the inter-mountain region, originally planned the CFPP to include 12 NuScale SMR power modules delivering 720MW. The project was due to be funded by subscriptions from towns in the region, but it was scaled back to six modules (462MW) when these subscriptions lagged.

"All indications were that the project was on schedule for the first NuScale Power Module to begin generating power in 2029, with the remaining modules coming online for full plant operation by 2030" reports Aaron Larson on Power, "but the project came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday."

The decision was welcomed by Rusty Cannon, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, in a statement: “As we have said for many years, taxpayer-funded entities should not be acting as venture capitalists on risky projects, no matter what the nature of the project is. This welcome news for taxpayers in Utah confirms what reasonable voices surrounding this project have known and spoken about for years- that it was doomed to fail.”

Warning bells had been sounded since at least November 2022, when Schlissel's IEEFA report said that the project's cost estimates had "ballooned" from $55 per megawatt-hour (MWh) to a "shocking" $90-$100 MWh, leaving the project’s future in serious doubt.

Schlissel pointed to "the long history of delayed and over-budget projects that have plagued the nuclear industry," warning that the project would require even bigger subsidies from federal taxpayers.

In 2020, the Department of Energy gave the CFPP a $1.4bn subsidy. Cannon commented: "It’s uncertain what will happen to federal subsidy now that the project has been terminated."

In recent CFPP project management meetings, CFPP project director Shawn Hughes had reported that CFPP had met or exceeded all planned milestones, and was on track to get the necessary license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

UAMPS remained positive in October, saying: “The project’s progress not only represents major achievements for CFPP as a specific entity but also within the broader context of the development of small modular nuclear reactors.”

But potential subscribers were not convinced and refused to sign up for the higher power prices, leading to the decision to pull the plug. UAMPS CEO Mason Baker said (in the release): “This decision is very disappointing given the years of pioneering hard work put into the CFPP by UAMPS, CFPP LLC, NuScale, US Department of Energy, and the UAMPS member communities that took the leadership role to launch the CFPP."

NuScale CEO John Hopkins put a positive light on the decision: “Through our work with UAMPS and our partnership with the US Department of Energy [DOE], we have advanced our NuScale Power Modules to the point that utilities, governments, and industrials can rely on a proven small modular reactor (SMR) technology that has regulatory approval and is in active production."

Although CFPP had been canceled, he said that in 10 years of work, NuScale had reached a milestone of having an SMR ready for commercial deployment, and promised to build on this: “NuScale will continue with our other domestic and international customers to bring our American SMR technology to market and grow the US nuclear manufacturing base, creating jobs across the US. We thank UAMPS for the collaboration that has enabled this advancement.”

As well as the controversial Standard Power deal, NuScale has an agreement with Nucor Corporation, to explore using SMRs to power steel mills which create metal from recycled steel. NuScale is also researching using nuclear power to make hydrogen with Shell.

The company has also initiated a project aimed at building an SMR in Poland.

NuScale's shares had already fallen 80 percent, since a high of nearly $15 in August 2022, to around $3 yesterday. Since the announcement, they have dropped to around $2.

NRC Proposes $43,750 Civil Penalty for Shipment of Equipment from Oyster Creek that Exceeded Radiation Limits

Nuclear Reuglatory Commission - News Release
No: I-23-015 November 9, 2023
CONTACT: Diane Screnci, 610-337-5330
Neil Sheehan, 610-337-5331

NRC Proposes $43,750 Civil Penalty for Shipment of Equipment from Oyster Creek that Exceeded Radiation Limits

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $43,750 fine for Holtec Decommissioning International for shipping radioactive materials in a package exceeding regulatory transportation limits.

The package, which contained decommissioning equipment, was shipped in an open transport vehicle from the Oyster Creek site in Lacey Township, New Jersey, to the Indian Point site in Buchanan, New York, where the radiation levels were detected on the outside surface. Holtec owns and is decommissioning both nuclear power plants.

There was no impact to the public as a consequence of this incident. The elevated radioactivity levels were confined to the top of the package and were not accessible to the public while in transit.

“This enforcement action reinforces that the NRC will hold licensees accountable if they don’t meet the requirements,” said NRC Region I Administrator Raymond Lorson. “We expect nuclear plant personnel to be diligent and ensure that no shipments are leaving their facilities that could in any way adversely affect the public.”

The NRC documented the Oyster Creek proposed violation in an August inspection report. In a separate finding, the NRC identified a “Severity Level IV” violation at Indian Point for Holtec’s failure to make a timely report to the NRC when the shipping package radiation level was found to exceed the regulatory limits. Holtec personnel at Indian Point should have reported it immediately but did not notify the NRC until the following day. This violation is lowest of four levels because there were no or relatively inappreciable safety consquences.

Holtec acknowledged the violation in a written response and provided corrective actions it has taken or will put in place to prevent a recurrence.

NRC Proposes $17,500 Fine to Puerto Rico Firm for Apparent Violation Involving Nuclear Gauge

Nuclear Reuglatory Commission - News Release
No: I-23-014 November 9, 2023
CONTACT: Diane Screnci, 610-337-5330
Neil Sheehan, 610-337-5331 

NRC Proposes $17,500 Fine to Puerto Rico Firm for Apparent Violation Involving Nuclear Gauge
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $17,500 civil penalty against a Toa Alta, Puerto Rico, firm for failing to dispose of or transfer a portable nuclear gauge and complete decommissioning of its site within the required time period.
Almonte Geo Services Group was licensed by the NRC to own and possess portable gauges containing small amounts of radioactive material. The gauges are used for such purposes as measuring the density of soil at construction sites.
In September 2015, the NRC issued an order revoking the company’s license for failing to pay fees it owed to the agency. Under the order, Almonte was required to dispose of or transfer its nuclear gauges to another authorized party within 60 days. The company eventually transferred two of its gauges and began decommissioning activities, but retained one other gauge.
The NRC issued a notice of violation in February and informed Almonte that the agency would consider a imposing a fine if the company did not take action to dispose of the remaining gauge.
“The NRC’s primary interest is in ensuring such gauges are licensed, used and stored properly, and that they do not fall into the wrong hands, possibly harming those not familiar with the radioactive contents,” NRC Region I Administrator Raymond Lorson said.
While the company is no longer licensed to possess or use this gauge, the NRC has verified that the gauge is being properly secured at Almonte’s facility to prevent unauthorized access or removal.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

[decomm_wkg] [Bananas] Oil & gas industry joins fight against nuclear waste site proposed in southeast New Mexico

Oil & gas industry joins fight against nuclear waste site proposed in southeast New Mexico
Adrian Hedden
Carlsbad Current-Argus
November 7, 2023

Some of the biggest oil and gas companies in the Permian Basin came out against a proposed nuclear waste facility in southeast New Mexico.

The basin spans southeast New Mexico and West Texas and is regarded as one of the most active fossil fuel regions in the world. It was forecast to produce about 5.9 million barrels of oil per day (bopd) in November, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is about half of the more than 12 million bopd of total U.S. output.

All that oil production is driven by some of the world’s largest energy companies establishing heavy operations in the region.

Occidental Petroleum, Concho Resources, Diamondback Energy and Fasken Oil and Ranch signed on to a Nov. 1 letter from the Permian Basin Coalition, along with other oil and gas companies and local governments, to oppose a nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad and Hobbs that Holtec International proposes.

Holtec proposed to build a facility to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel rods at the site on the surface, ultimately with a capacity to hold up to 100,000 metric tons of the waste brought into the region via rail from nuclear power plants around the country.

About 2,000 metric tons of the waste is produced annually by reactors in the U.S., according to a report from Department of Energy.

The proposed location was on an about 1,000-acre tract of land near border of Eddy and Lea counties.

Government and business leaders in Eddy and Lea counties and the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs touted the project as a safe means to diversify the economy of the oil-dependent region and drive-up local revenue.

They formed the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA) which sited the facility, recruited Holtec and aided the company in applying in 2017 for a federal license through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The NRC issued Holtec’s license in May after years of public meetings, comments and analysis of the project.

But in its letter to U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), a frequent critic of the Holtec project, the coalition urged the lawmaker to seek federal legislation that would block the proposal.

The letter argued temporary storage as the company planned to build, should only exist when a permanent repository was available.

Such a site does not exist in the U.S. after a project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada was blocked by lawmakers in that state.

“The cross-country transport, consolidation, and interim storage of America’s entire inventory of spent nuclear fuel should only be considered once a permanent repository is underway and should never occur absent consent from affected communities,” read the coalition’s letter.

That consent was not present in New Mexico or Texas, argued the letter, where a similar facility in Andrews, Texas was licensed by NRC last year but was blocked by a court order.

Both states passed legislation barring high-level nuclear waste storage, amid opposition from New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Lujan Grisham called the projects “economic malpractice” for the risks she said they could pose to other industries nearby.

And the U.S. Department of Energy recently started a program to develop regulations for a “consent-based” siting model for nuclear facilities, that would require states to agree to host the facilities.

A bill to put such policy into law was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Dina Titus of Nevada, with identical legislation brought to the U.S. Senate by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto also of Nevada.

Neither bill had garnered co-sponsorship by any of New Mexico’s congressional delegation as of Friday.

The coalition’s letter called on Heinrich to fight against any federal bills to allow nuclear waste sites like Holtec’s be developed without consent from host states, and push policy to strengthen such requirements as in Titus’ bill.

“Therefore, we are writing to respectfully request that you remain diligent in ensuring that no such legislation is enacted and humbly ask for your leadership in passing legislation to protect not only the State of New Mexico but also neighboring Texans and the many vulnerable communities along the waste’s transportation routes,” read the letter.

The group argued nuclear waste storage in the region could also endanger the oil and gas industry, a major arm of the local and national economy, along with nearby farming and ranching producers.

“The Permian Basin ranks at the top nationally as our country’s most productive source of food, fuel, and fiber for its overwhelming energy, agriculture, crops, and livestock production,” read the letter. “Its importance to our economy and security cannot be downplayed, and it is no place for high-level nuclear waste.”

Opposition from proposed host states should be given a higher weight than the desires of companies and federal agencies in finding locations for nuclear waste facilities, said Titus in a statement issued upon her bill’s introduction.

“We must codify the protection of their voices into law to protect the health and safety of our communities and guarantee a process that honors the consent of state, local, and tribal leaders,” read the statement.

In announcing the DOE’s $26 million project to develop consent-based siting regulations, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said consent-based siting was crucial to address the nation’s nuclear waste while protecting local communities.

“It is vital that, as DOE works to be good stewards of the nation’s spent nuclear fuel, we do right by communities in the siting process and include them in the decision-making at the outset,” Granholm said.

Adrian Heddencan be reached at 575-628-5516, or@AdrianHedden on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Creditworthiness Criteria for Decommissioning

Draft Interim Staff Guidance on Creditworthiness Criteria for Decommissioning

Document Title:Interim Staff Guidance on Creditworthiness Criteria for Parent and Self-Guarantees, Decommissioning Financial Assurance
Document Type:Memoranda
Document Date:11/03/202

OIG-24-A-01 Inspector General’s Assessment of NRC for FY 2024

Dear Decommissioning Trust Fund Trackers,

Nothing Burger from OIG - see chapter on Decommissioning pasted below.

OIG-24-A-01 Inspector General’s Assessment of the Most Serious Management and Performance Challenges Facing the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Fiscal Year 2024
Document Type:Report, Technical
Document Date:11/03/2023

Challenge 2: Overseeing the Decommissioning Process and
the Management of Decommissioning Trust Funds

The increased numbers of power reactor sites in
decommissioning, and of those opting for
accelerated decommissioning, add to demands on
decommissioning program resources for all
decommissioning licensing and oversight
activities, including the NRC’s independent
analyses of licensees’ decommissioning funding
status reports.

There are 25 power reactors currently undergoing decommissioning. The
licensees for these reactors and other nuclear reactors must provide reasonable
assurance that funds will be available for the entire decommissioning process.
To oversee licensees’ decommissioning funding, the NRC requires licensees to
provide a decommissioning financial status report biennially, and annually for
five years prior to permanent cessation of operations. Prior to or within 2
years after permanent cessation of operations, licensees are required to submit
a Post Shut-Down Decommissioning Activities Report that includes a
description and schedule for the planned decommissioning activities and a
site-specific cost estimate. Licensees in decommissioning must then annually
submit decommissioning funding status reports.
The NRC has identified technical resource needs for the program in inspection,
risk analysis, licensing review, and project management. Local communities
may have additional concerns about the accelerated decommissioning model,
entailing augmented opportunities for public interactions.
Key decommissioning challenges include:
• Ensuring that agency processes adequately address current reactor
decommissioning business models, including those that provide for
accelerated decommissioning activities;
• Managing oversight of the adequacy and use of decommissioning trust
funds maintained by both operating and decommissioning reactors;
• Maintaining reasonable assurance that operating reactors will have
sufficient funds to decommission safely;
• Overseeing accelerated schedules for decommissioning; and,
• Improving decommissioning guidance.

The NRC is performing licensing
reviews and oversight for 25 power
reactors currently in various stages of
decommissioning. This includes the
review of two license termination
plans. The agency anticipates
submission of four additional license
termination plans in the next year.
As of July 2023, the NRC is reviewing
the Decommissioning Funding Status
(DFS) reports that were due from
decommissioning licensees on March
31, 2023. Following the previous
biennial review, NRC staff reported to
the Commission in December 2021,
that all licensees were in compliance
with funding requirements.
The NRC is going through rulemaking
to clarify when an exemption is
necessary for using the
decommissioning trust funds. The
rulemaking’s estimated completion
date is in the first quarter of FY 2025.
A Regulatory Guide, RG 1.184, is
planned to follow the rulemaking to
provide further guidance for NRC
staff and licensees.
The NRC supported licensing and
oversight for decommissioning
programs with guidance updates and
public outreach activities, including
the issuance of NUREG-1757,
“Consolidated Decommissioning
Guidance,” Vol. 2.
The NRC participated in a
Congressional field hearing near the
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station site,
and conducted two Post-Shutdown
Decommissioning Activities Report
public meetings.
The NRC improved its tracking of
Decommissioning Funding Status
reports and updated LIC-205,
“Procedures for NRC’s Independent
Analysis of Decommissioning
Funding Assurance for Operating
Nuclear Power Reactors and Power
Reactors in Decommissioning,” to
clarify the roles and responsibilities
and procedures related to DFS
report review.

Saturday, November 4, 2023

"Driver breaches gate at S.C. NPP, tries to hit guards," (November 3, 2023)

Police investigating incident at South Carolina nuclear plant after car drives through security fences

The suspect drove off and shots were fired in the area, police say.
By Jon Haworth and Luke Barr November 3, 2023, 3:42 PM

National headlines from ABC News

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.
Police in South Carolina are investigating an incident involving a vehicle that drove through security fences at a nuclear power station on Thursday.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said it is in the early stages of an investigation into an incident that occurred at the Oconee Nuclear Station around 8:05 p.m. on Thursday.

Police say that a "white male driving a silver 2002 Toyota Camry drove through the exit side of the gate on the Highway 183 side of the facility," according to information obtained by Deputies from the Uniform Patrol Bureau.

"After the vehicle struck the pop-up barricades that security at the plant activated, the driver backed the vehicle up and proceeded down a dirt road, where Duke Energy security blocked the vehicle in, according to Deputies. The driver then drove through a fence after attempting to hit the security officers," a press release from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office read.

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The driver then reportedly drove out of the exit of the plant where he attempted to hit a security truck with a guard in it, police said. 

The driver then made his way back onto Highway 183 before driving into Pickens County and pulled onto some property on Jones Mill Road where shots were subsequently fired.

At this time, the source of the shots fired in the Jones Mill Road area is unknown, police said.

The Oconee Nuclear Station, Jan. 8, 2005, in Seneca, S.C.
Mary Ann Chastain/AP
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No one was injured and the nuclear station is "operating safely," Duke Energy said.

"Duke Energy has comprehensive security plans and a well-trained security workforce in place," the company said in a statement. "A vehicle entered an administrative gate, but was not able to access the plant due to our multiple layers of security."

The silver 2002 Toyota Camry has an Arkansas tag of 380VDR, according to information obtained during the investigation.

MORE: International manhunt on after woman found dead in airport garage as cops believe suspect fled to Kenya

"About one hour before tonight’s incident, the same vehicle and driver also showed up on the property of the Oconee Nuclear Station. After being asked to leave, the driver drove off," police said.

The FBI said it was aware of the incident, but deferred to the local sheriff's office for any information related to the case.

John Cohen, the former acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis at the Department of Homeland Security, said the incident comes as the United States is on high alert because of tensions overseas.

"Over the last several months, there have been threats of violence directed at our nation's power infrastructure by foreign terrorist groups, domestic violent extremists," Cohen, now an ABC News contributor, said. "Investigators will want to determine whether this incident was motivated by extremist or terrorist ideology or whether some other grievance or factor was the inspiration behind the attack."

Anybody with any information on the whereabouts of the driver of a 2002 Toyota Camry with an Arkansas tag of 380VDR is asked to contact emergency authorities immediately.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the body which oversees nuclear plants in the United States, told ABC News the incident was "monitored closely throughout the night," and said Duke Energy proactively informed the commission.

"The plant continues to operate safely, the public remains safe, and all U.S. nuclear power plants are operating at their normal security levels," a spokesperson said.







Thursday, November 2, 2023

NRC Announces Carrie M. Safford as the New Commission Secretary Inbox

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 23-068 October 31, 2023
CONTACT: Office of Public Affairs, 301-415-8200

NRC Announces Carrie M. Safford as the New Commission Secretary

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced the selection of Carrie M. Safford as the new Secretary of the Commission, effective Nov. 5. She is the fifth person in the 48-year history of the NRC to hold this position.

Safford has been serving as a Deputy Director in the Division Fuel Management, which has regulatory responsibility for nuclear fuel cycle activities in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.

She succeeds Brooke Poole Clark, who assumed her new position as the agency’s General Counsel in mid-October.

In her new role, Safford will provide executive management services to support the Commission and implement Commission decisions. The Office of the Secretary serves a critical role with its responsibilities for scheduling Commission meetings, managing the Commission's decision-making process, codifying Commission decisions in memoranda, processing and controlling Commission correspondence, and maintaining the Commission’s historical records, among other duties.

“Carrie has served in a variety of capacities and brings extensive legal and regulatory experience,” said NRC Chair Christopher T. Hanson. “Her proven executive leadership and vast knowledge of the agency’s policies and procedures well positions her to keep the Commission’s business functioning smoothly.”

Safford joined the NRC in 2008 as an attorney, and later was selected as Deputy Assistant General Counsel in the Division of Materials Litigation and Enforcement within the Office of the General Counsel. She has served in leadership positions across the agency, including as Deputy Director of the Waste Confidence Directorate in NMSS; and as Assistant General Counsel in OGC in the Division of High-Level Waste, Fuel Cycle and Nuclear Security, and in the Division of Legislation, Ethics, and Administrative Law.

Before joining the NRC, Safford practiced energy law in Washington, D.C. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology-Geology from the University of Rochester and her Juris Doctor from Pace University School of Law. Safford is a graduate of the NRC’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.