US consortium calls for public-private SMR support

20  February 2017

A consortium of small modular reactor (SMR) developers and customers has issued a policy statement setting out the benefits of public-private partnerships to facilitate the commercialisation and export of US-designed SMRs.

The SMR Start consortium, which was launched in January 2016, said SMRs were a "strategic option" for the US to meet the need for new generation capacity from the mid-2020s onwards. Commercialisation of new nuclear technologies involves large upfront first-of-a-kind costs and a relatively long timeframe to complete licensing and design activities, the consortium said. Investment of such amounts, over the timeframes required and without contractual commitments, presented a "unique challenge" to companies, the consortium said.

Public-private partnerships - similar to those that provide support for the introduction of other new energy technologies - would help ensure the successful commercialisation of SMRs, the consortium said, stimulating the private investments required to ensure that the technology continues to advance and is capable of competing in overseas markets without additional direct support once the technology matures. "Such partnerships are an appropriate policy due to the public benefits derived from SMRs that are not valued in the energy markets, such as carbon-free generation and improved electricity grid reliability", it said.

India creates medical supplies from nuclear waste

20 February 2017

Scientists in India are using materials recovered from radioactive waste to protect babies and vulnerable patients from adverse reactions to blood transfusion. A production line at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Trombay creates medical products based on caesium-137 instead of the usual cobalt-60, with a range of benefits.

Robot surveys Fukushima Daiichi containment vessel

17 February 2017

Scorpion robot for FD 2 PCV - 48Tokyo Electric Power Company yesterday sent a robot into the primary containment vessel of the damaged unit 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. Although the robot was unable to reach the part of the vessel directly under the reactor pressure vessel, the company said the information it gathered will help it determine how to decommission the unit.

Poroshenko: Ukraine increasing nuclear share to 60%

17 February 2017

Nuclear energy's share of Ukraine's electricity mix is "rapidly approaching" 60%, President Petro Poroshenko said at a meeting of the country's National Security and Defence Council yesterday, according to a statement on the presidential website. The president did not give a date by which the increase would be achieved.

First Sellafield fuel pond sludge encapsulated

20 February 2017

PFSP sludge packaging - 48Drums of radioactive sludge from Sellafield's Pile Fuel Storage Pond - the world's oldest nuclear storage pond - have been processed in the site's encapsulation plant for the first time. The waste is now ready for long-term disposal.

EU, IAEA agree to bolster cooperation

17 February 2017

The European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency agreed to strengthen their cooperation in a range of nuclear activities, including nuclear science applications, during a meeting in Brussels this week.

Decommissioning plan for Shimane 1 amended

16 February 2017

Shimane - 48Japanese utility Chugoku Electric Power Company has submitted to the regulator an amendment to its decommissioning plan for unit 1 of its Shimane nuclear power plant.

Brexit white paper confuses Euratom debate

The 2008 EU Amendment Act is not a justifiable legal basis for the UK government's belief that Brexit must also mean an exit from Euratom, write Jonathan Leech and Rupert Cowen.

The government's white paper on the UK's "exit from and new partnership with" the European Union published last week confirms its position that "When we invoke Article 50, we will be leaving Euratom as well as the EU". In support of this, the document asserts that the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 "makes clear that, in UK law, references to the EU include Euratom". This is presumably an assertion that references to the EU in the Referendum Act, the referendum question and the withdrawal bill automatically include Euratom - something both the Leave and Remain campaigns omitted to mention.

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