TMI Update: Jan 14, 2024


Did you catch "The Meltdown: Three Mile Island" on Netflix?
TMI remains a danger and TMIA is working hard to ensure the safety of our communities and the surrounding areas.
Learn more on this site and support our efforts. Join TMIA. To contact the TMIA office, call 717-233-7897.

    

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: III-24-002 January 19, 2024
Contact: Prema Chandrathil, 630-829-9663
 
NRC Proposes $9,000 Civil Penalty Against Geotechnical and Materials Engineers
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $9,000 fine to Geotechnical and Materials Engineers, Inc. for a violation of NRC requirements associated with the control of NRC-regulated material.
 
The violation involved the failure to control and maintain constant surveillance of a portable moisture density gauge containing radioactive material or to use two independent physical controls to secure the gauge. The gauge is used for measuring the moisture content and density of soil and aggregate.
 
The NRC was notified by the company that a gauge was struck and damaged by a bulldozer at a temporary job site in Fort Wayne, Indiana, on March 22, 2023. The technician then walked away from the gauge, failing to secure it from being removed from the site by an unauthorized user.
 
Following an inspection at the company’s office in Fort Wayne, Indiana, the NRC documented the proposed violations in a November inspection report.
 
Geotechnical and Materials Engineers responded to the violations, documenting actions it has taken to prevent recurrence of the violation.
 
The company has 30 days to pay the proposed penalty, contest the penalty in writing, or request alternative dispute resolution with the NRC to resolve this issue.
 
January 26, 2023
 
Russell G. Workman
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
EnergySolutions, LLC
299 S. Main Street Ste 1700
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
SUBJECT: ENERGYSOLUTIONS, LLC – REQUEST FOR THRESHOLD DETERMINATION
 
Dear Mr. Workman:
By letter dated November 23, 2022, as supplemented by letter dated January 13, 2023,
EnergySolutions, LLC (EnergySolutions) requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) make a threshold determination that a corporate transaction involving
companies upstream of the indirect majority owner of EnergySolutions would not result in a
transfer of control of Facility Operating License Nos. DPR-39 and DPR-48 for Zion Nuclear
Power Station (Zion), Units 1 and 2, respectively, and the general license for the Zion
independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI), Possession Only License No. DPR-73 for
Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 2 (TMI-2), Possession Only License No. DPR-45 for La
Crosse Boiling Water Reactor (La Crosse), and the general license for the La Crosse ISFSI, and
Renewed Facility Operating License No. DPR-43 for Kewaunee Power Station (Kewaunee), and
the general license for the Kewaunee ISFSI; Radioactive Materials License No. 39-35044-01;
and Export Licenses XW010/04 and XW018/01 that would require prior NRC approval under the
applicable NRC regulations.

The NRC staff has completed its review and concludes that the corporate transaction, as
presented in the request, will not constitute a direct or indirect transfer of control under the
applicable NRC regulations of the NRC licenses held by EnergySolutions and its wholly-owned
subsidiaries and will not result in foreign ownership, control, or domination issues. Therefore,
EnergySolutions does not require prior NRC approval for the corporate transaction. The
enclosed safety evaluation documents the NRC staff’s review and conclusion.
 

Zip of 5 documents

39-35044-01 633678 EnergySolutions, LLC (Change of Control)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: III-24-001 January 16, 2024
Contact: Viktoria Mitlyng, 630-829-9662 Prema Chandrathil, 630-829-9663
 
NRC to Hold Pre-Decisional Enforcement Conference with an Indianapolis-based Healthcare Company
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a pre-decisional enforcement conference Jan. 18 with representatives of Community Health Network, a multi-site healthcare services provider, to discuss proposed violations associated with radiological controls required during hospital operations at its facilities in Indianapolis, Indiana.
 
The meeting will take place from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. Central time at the NRC’s Region III office at 2443 Warrenville Road, Suite 210, in Lisle, Illinois. It will be open to the public except for discussion on security-related information. The meeting notice has information on how the public can participate in the open portion by calling into a toll-free teleconference line or joining online.
 
The NRC identified three proposed violations of NRC requirements during a routine inspection. One involved the licensee’s failure to prepare a written directive before the administration of a medical isotope. The second involved the hospital’s apparent failure to monitor the occupational exposure from radiation sources to its workers and failure to require the use of individual monitoring devices. Details of the third proposed violation, which is security related, will not be made publicly available.
 
During the enforcement conference, hospital representatives will have the opportunity to provide their perspective or additional information regarding the issues before the agency makes its final enforcement decision. The hospital representatives also can discuss corrective actions it has taken or planned to address the issues and prevent recurrence.
 
No decisions will be made during the meeting. The NRC will review the information and make a final determination approximately 60 days after the conference. The decision will be publicly available.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-003 January 12, 2024
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board to Hold Oral Argument on Perry License Renewal
 
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hold oral argument virtually on Jan. 30 on a petition requesting a hearing on Energy Harbor Nuclear Corp.’s application to renew the operating license of Perry Nuclear Power Plant, near Perry, Ohio, for an additional 20 years.
 
The oral argument, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time, will allow the Board to ask questions about the admissibility of two proposed contentions from petitioners Ohio Nuclear- Free Network and Beyond Nuclear challenging safety and environmental aspects of the application. The Board will hear argument from representatives for the petitioners, Energy Harbor Nuclear, and the NRC staff.
 
The public will have listen-only access to the oral argument by dialing 301-576-2978 and entering the passcode 510 048 948, followed by the “#” sign.
 
The Board is composed of three administrative judges from the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel. Boards conduct adjudicatory hearings on NRC licensing and enforcement actions, and they are independent of the NRC staff. A Board’s ruling may be appealed to the Commission, the five-member body that sets NRC policy.
 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: IV-24-003 January 12, 2024
CONTACT: Victor Dricks, 817-200-1128
 
NRC Proposes $35,000 Civil Penalty to Radiation Solutions
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has proposed a $35,000 civil penalty against Radiation Solutions of Sugar City, Idaho, for two violations of NRC requirements associated with its use of radioactive materials.
 
Under its NRC license, Radiation Solutions is authorized to install, repair and provide other types of services on devices that contain radioactive material.
 
One of the proposed violations involves the company’s failure to confine radioactive materials to the locations and purposes authorized in their licenses. The other violation involves deliberate misconduct by a company official who permitted Radiation Solutions to take possession of radioactive materials not authorized in its license.
 
The violations had no adverse impact on the health and safety of the public.
 
Details of the apparent violations were documented in an October 2023 inspection report. The company responded to the NRC during a pre-decisional enforcement conference in December 2023.
 
The NRC made its enforcement decision after reviewing the circumstances surrounding the apparent violations and considering any actions the company may have taken to comply with NRC regulations.
 
The company has 30 days to pay the fine, dispute it, or request involvement from a neutral third-party mediator to resolve the issue.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-004 January 12, 2024
CONTACT: Scott Burnell, 301-415-8200
 
NRC, FERC Commissioners to Meet Jan. 25 in Washington, D.C. to Discuss Grid Reliability, Reactor and Cybersecurity Issues
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will meet Jan. 25 to discuss grid reliability, operating reactors, advanced reactor activities, cybersecurity and other topics. This continues a tradition of regular joint meetings between the two agencies going back nearly two decades, apart from a brief interruption during the pandemic.
 
The meeting, hosted by FERC at its headquarters, will begin at 10 a.m. Eastern time in the Commission Meeting Room, 888 First St. NE, Washington, D.C. The agenda and link to watch the meeting live are available online.
 
Staff from both agencies and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation will brief the NRC and FERC Commissioners at the meeting.
 


Subject: [ONFN-Core] DOE Launches Nuclear RFP for Uranium Enrichment to Expand Domestic HALEU Chain
 

DOE Launches Nuclear RFP for Uranium Enrichment to Expand Domestic HALEU Chain

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) for uranium enrichment and storage services as part of a measure aimed at stimulating a domestic supply chain for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU). The action follows an RFP released in November 2023 for services to deconvert enriched uranium into metal, oxide, and other forms for advanced reactor fuel.

The agency’s formal issuance of an RFP for uranium enrichment services on Jan. 9 opens the selection process for Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts geared toward the DOE’s acquisition of HALEU as uranium hexafluoride (UF6), which will be domestically enriched up <20% by weight as uranium-235 (U-235).

If selected, contractors will be required to store the HALEU UF6, as well as provide transportation of the material to deconversion facilities, if not co-located at the enrichment facility. In addition, the “feed uranium for enrichment to HALEU UF6 must have been mined and converted, and not come from a source that was recycled or reprocessed. However, the use of tails will not be restricted,” the agency noted.

The DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy on Tuesday said it plans to award one or more contracts to produce HALEU from domestic uranium enrichment capabilities. HALEU enrichment contracts will have a maximum duration of 10 years, and the government will “assure” each contractor a minimum order value of $2 million to be fulfilled over the term of the contract. The total contract ceiling for the IDIQ contract is $2.7 billion for all task orders cumulatively awarded under the RFP, the DOE said.

Building Out the Domestic HALEU Supply Chain

The measure marks the newest step by the Biden administration to expand the domestic HALEU supply chain for advanced commercial reactors. While the existing U.S. fleet runs on uranium fuel enriched up to 5% with uranium-235 (U-235), HALEU is a nuclear material enriched between 5% to 20%. The material has several uses in fuel for advanced reactors, including molten salt reactors or tristructural isotropic (TRISO). HALEU may also be used in operating reactors (enriched between 5% and 10%), offering better performance.

While Russia remains the world’s only commercial supplier of HALEU, the DOE in recent years has taken critical steps to build out a U.S. HALEU front-end supply chain. Domestic HALEU production is currently dependent on “downblending,” which involves blending existing or recovered highly enriched uranium (HEU) to form uranium of a lower enrichment. However, the DOE has said limited HEU stocks are available for downblending beyond those obligated to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

This graphic from Idaho National Laboratory (INL) illustrates the many steps within an integrated high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) supply chain. Source: INL

Uranium enrichment involves “enriching” the U-235 isotope in a multi-step process. Mined uranium consists of about 99.3% U-238 and 0.7% U-235, which is fissionable when enriched to beyond 3% (as well as less than 0.01% of U-234). At a conversion plant, uranium oxide is converted from powder into a UF6, a gas whose fluorine element does not contribute to the weight difference while separating U-235 from U-238. Honeywell recently reopened Metropolis Works plant in Metropolis, Illinois—the U.S.’s sole uranium conversion facility.

During enrichment, the UF6 gas is separated into two streams, one with more U-235 than before and the other with less. Centrus Energy and Urenco, which host the nation’s only enrichment capacities, utilize gas centrifuge technology. The technology utilizes many rotating cylinders connected in long lines to create a strong centrifugal force. After enrichment, the UF6 must be “deconverted” to a uranium form (to include oxides, metal and alloys, and nitrides and carbides) suitable for fuel fabrication. As POWER has reported, a HALEU supply chain will require deconversion processes that accommodate different fuel forms for advanced reactors.

Over the near term, the DOE has been working to provide small quantities of HALEU from recycling, though these are limited to DOE inventories. The DOE also plans to leverage HALEU enrichment capabilities demonstrated by Centrus under a DOE contract. Centrus in October 2023 kicked off enrichment operations at its American Centrifuge Plant cascade in Piketon, Ohio. In November 2023, the company announced the production of its first 20 kilograms (kg) of HALEU. Under its contract with the DOE, the facility is slated to produce 900 kg for a full year.

The DOE will own HALEU produced from the demonstration cascade, and Centrus will be compensated on a cost-plus-incentive-fee basis. Centrus has said, however, that the contract also gives the DOE options “to pay for up to nine additional years of production from the cascade beyond the base contract.” However, “those options are at the Department’s sole discretion and subject to the availability of Congressional appropriations,” it notes.

HALEU reguli fabricated from downblended high-enriched uranium recovered from legacy EBR-II fuel at Idaho National Laboratory. Source: DOE

A Longer-Term Vision

To establish a commercial HALEU supply in the U.S. over the longer term, the DOE in June 2023 issued two draft requests for HALEU acquisition proposals (RFPs). The measure is furnished by $700 million allocated by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to support activities under the HALEU Availability Program (which Congress established in the Energy Act of 2020). Both draft RFPs, which will leverage up to $500 million from the IRA funding, have now been finalized.

The first RFP, issued on Nov. 28, 2023, focuses on deconversion activities to convert enriched UF6 gas into metal or oxide forms, which can be used to fabricate fuels needed by several advanced reactor developers. Proposals are due on Jan. 30. The RFP issued on Tuesday focuses on acquiring services for the enrichment and storage of HALEU material. Proposals are due on March 8, 2023.

The DOE is in tandem also finalizing a transportation funding opportunity announcement that will provide a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) pathway for HALEU transportation packages. Additionally, the DOE is preparing an environmental impact statement that will analyze the impacts of a DOE-proposed action to facilitate the domestic commercialization of HALEU production and acquire HALEU for commercial use on demonstration projects, including those demonstrations under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP).

The first two ARDP demonstrations, spearheaded by TerraPower and X-energy, will require about 22 metric tons of HALEU for their initial cores. X-energy’s fuel manufacturing process requires HALEU in the oxide form while TerraPower’s requires HALEU in the metal form. Construction on TerraPower’s Natrium project in Wyoming, notably, has been delayed until 2025, owing to a lack of HALEU availability.

In mid-December, Dr. Michael Goff, principal deputy assistant secretary for the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy, revealed the agency is also developing a “novel technologies funding opportunity announcement that will focus on lowering energy inputs, lowering capital costs, and developing technologies that will provide significant economic advantages to the front end of the fuel cycle.”

The DOE has so far established a “HALEU Consortium,” a public-private coordination effort to help inform activities by the DOE to stimulate domestic HALEU demand. “The roles of the HALEU consortium of which HALEU recipients need to be a  member, include providing HALEU demand estimates, carrying out demonstration projects, and developing a schedule for cost recovery for commercial use,” Goff noted.

While the DOE’s efforts are aimed at establishing a domestic HALEU supply chain, it noted the U.S. is collaborating with Canada, France, Japan, and the UK to “catalyze public and private sector investments that will expand global uranium enrichment and conversion capacity over the next three years and establish a resilient uranium supply market that is free from Russian influence.”

The five countries— which are collectively responsible for 50% of the world’s uranium conversion and enrichment production capacity—on Dec. 7 announced plans to mobilize $4.2 billion in government-led investments to develop a secure, reliable global nuclear energy supply chain. The investments are geared to enhance uranium enrichment and conversion capacity over the next three years “and establish a resilient global uranium supply market free from Russian influence.” 

Earlier this week, the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero announced a £300 million ($382 million) investment to support HALEU production as part of a program that would support its goals to expand its nuclear capacity to 24 GW by 2050.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine).

Pages