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Many challenges have to be faced in maintaining safety over the long term in a damaged nuclear power plant following a severe accident, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) notes in a new status report. The report reviews knowledge and experience gained through long-term management of the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Daiichi accidents, by identifying and ranking main issues and knowledge gaps. It also reviews the existing regulations and guidance, practices, technical bases and issues regarding long-term management of a severely damaged nuclear site.

Date: Friday, 07 May 2021
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The US Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to build a microreactor to help researchers and end-users understand how microreactors can integrate with other technologies. The Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) liquid-metal cooled microreactor could be operational within three years.

Date: Thursday, 22 April 2021
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The Hunterston nuclear power station in Scotland. Courtesy EDF Energy. The UK’s nuclear regulator said on Tuesday it had approved a restart of the B-1 and B2- nuclear power units at the Hunterston nuclear station in Scotland.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said on its website that the restart safety case is for up to 16.7 terawatt days for Hunterston B-1 and 16.52 terawatt days for Hunterston B-2 – approximately six month’s operation for each reactor.

This will be the facility’s final period of operation before moving into the defueling phase.

The ONR’s assessment for restart focussed on whether cracking observed in the graphite bricks that form the reactor core could compromise the key nuclear safety requirements.

The UK has a long history of using graphite as a moderator, from the early Magnox reactors to advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) such as Hunterston.

Date: Wednesday, 14 April 2021
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Pickering is one of three nuclear power stations owned by OPG. The company has a total of 18 Candu reactors. Ontario Power Generation’s Centre for Canadian Nuclear Sustainability (CCNS) has joined forces with Moltex Energy on a project aimed at recycling used fuel from Candu reactors.

CCNS will provide CAD1m (€680,000) in funding to help Canada-based Moltex demonstrate the technical viability of a new process to recycle used Candu fuel.

When removed from an operating reactor, used Candu fuel still contains energy in the form of fissionable uranium and plutonium isotopes, which cannot be used without removing fission products. Moltex’s process would recover these energy resources and prepare them for use as new fuel in other advanced reactor designs, potentially reducing the volume of the material requiring long-term storage in a deep geological repository.

Date: Thursday, 01 April 2021
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The US Department of Defense's (DOD) project to develop a mobile reactor - Project Pele - is on track for full power testing of a mobile reactor in 2023, with outdoor mobile testing at a Department of Energy (DOE) installation in 2024, DOD's Jeff Waksman told the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's 33rd Regulatory Information Conference last week.

Date: Saturday, 20 March 2021
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Russia’s Rosatom on 2 March announced a tender for the development and demonstration of key technological solutions for the creation of a research molten salt reactor with a used nuclear fuel reprocessing module. The cost of the work planned for 2021 is estimated at RUB369 million ($5m), and the funds will be allocated from the federal budget. Applications from tenderers are accepted until 24 March. The purpose of the work is “development and demonstration of key technological solutions for a reactor with circulating fuel based on molten salts of lithium and beryllium fluorides with a fuel salt processing module for transmutation of long-lived actinides”, according to the tender documentation.

Date: Friday, 05 March 2021
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Russia has loaded about one-third of the reactor core of the BN-800 fast neutron reactor at Beloyarsk-4 with commercial mixed oxide uranium-plutonium (MOX) fuel, state nuclear operator Rosenergoatom said.

Rosenergoatom said the move to MOX fuel at Beloyarsk-4 brings the Russian nuclear industry “one step closer” to its goal of closing the fuel cycle.

It said that for the first time during a planned outrage, which began on 8 January 2021 and concluded this week, only MOX fuel was loaded into the reactor.

Staff loaded 160 MOX fuel assemblies to complement the first 18 which were loaded in January 2020. There are now 178 MOX assemblies from a total of 565 in the reactor core.

Date: Friday, 26 February 2021
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A Task Force on Public Investment in Nuclear Research and Development, commissioned by the American Nuclear Society (ANS), on 17 February issued an assessment of US nuclear energy research and development funding needs for the 2020s. The 46-page study, “The US Nuclear R&D Imperative,” outlines the level of federal investments for meeting nuclear energy R&D needs and enabling a commercial scale-up of US-designed advanced reactors in the 2030s. The report also looked at maximising nuclear energy for decarbonisation, economic growth through high-paying nuclear jobs, and preservation of US influence in global nuclear safety and standards.

Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2021
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Australian fusion energy start-up HB11 Energy Holdings said on 19 February that it had closed its oversubscribed pre-seed fundraise at AUD4.6 million ($3.6m) and started its experimental programme, after opening the round in April 2020.

Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2021
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With 10 research and innovation actions linked to nuclear, the Strategic Energy Technology Plan is "really stimulating new partnerships" across the 18 SET countries that are participating in them, Rosalinde van der Vlies, 'clean planet' director at the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, said this week. Speaking in the plenary session of SNETP Forum 2021, she said all EU Member States have "very high standards" in safety, radiation protection and security.

Date: Friday, 05 February 2021
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