Nuclear

Crews enter troubled nuclear waste dump

CARLSBAD, New Mexico (AP) — Crews made their first trip into the federal government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico on Wednesday to begin investigating a radiation release in February that contaminated 21 workers, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

Two crews of eight made the initial descent into the half-mile deep Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, and no airborne radiation was detected, the agency said.

Officials called the entries a critical first step toward figuring out what caused the leak. But they said more expanded trips will be needed to continue the probe and assess the extent of damage.

Los Alamos resumes nuclear-waste shipments

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is under a tight deadline to get nuclear waste of its northern New Mexico campus before wildfire season peaks, has begun trucking the remainder of the waste to Texas.

Los Alamos and Department of Energy officials say the first shipments arrived at a commercial nuclear waste dump in Andrews County in west Texas on Wednesday.

Removal of the waste was halted in February after a truck fire and radiation leak shuttered indefinitely the federal government's underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico. But federal officials last month reached an agreement to temporarily move the waste to Waste Control Specialists.

Smoke causes alert at Illinois nuclear plant

CORDOVA, Ill. (AP) — Operators of the Quad Cities Generating Station in western Illinois declared an "alert" after smoke was observed in a plant electrical system.

Exelon Generation spokesman William Stoermer says Exelon's technical experts are looking into the cause of the smoke. According to Stoermer, Quad Cities Unit 2 was removed from service on Monday to replace a valve on the control rod drive system. The unit was in the startup process Wednesday when smoke was detected. The unit is stable and shut down. Unit 1 remains at full power.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there have been no abnormal releases of radioactive material as a result of the event at the plant. Agency officials say fire equipment and ambulances were summoned to site as a precaution. There were no injuries.

Perry backs storage site for Texas nuclear waste

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Gov. Rick Perry has asked lawmakers to explore establishing a location in Texas to store the state's high-level radioactive waste.

Citing a report from the state's environmental agency, Perry told Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus in a letter that Texas is suited to store spent nuclear fuel from the state's four commercial reactors and that a solution is needed.

Texas waste is now stored on site by the utilities that operate the reactors. But Perry wants to develop a single storage location until a national repository for nuclear waste is established.

Nebraska nuke plant at full power after outage

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska nuclear plant is operating at full power again after its second brief outage in the past three months, utility officials said Wednesday.

The Omaha Public Power District said Fort Calhoun resumed generating electricity on March 19 — two days after a problem on the non-nuclear side of the plant during maintenance triggered the shutdown.

The nuclear plant that sits along the Missouri River across from Iowa about 20 miles north of Omaha reached full power again on March 21.

NRC lets Constellation transfer nuke licenses

SCRIBA, N.Y. (AP) — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the direct transfer of operating licenses for five commercial nuclear power reactors, including three in upstate New York.

The licenses for the Nine Mile Point and Ginna nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario, along with two at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland, will be transferred from Constellation Energy to Exelon.

The license approval also includes three spent fuel storage installations and allows Exelon to integrate the operations of the facilities into its existing nuclear fleet.

Senate hawks protest Iran's new UN ambassador

Source: 
Reuters

Foreign policy hawks in the Senate protested the selection of Hamid Abutalebi to serve as Iran's ambassador to the United Nations, saying the selection of the diplomat with connections with the Iranian hostage crisis will make negotiations on Iran's nuclear program more difficult, Reuters reports.

Re-entry to WIPP nuke dump postponed

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy has postponed plans to get a crew underground to begin investigating a radiation leak from the federal government's nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico.

Officials on Monday said a crew of eight would enter the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant on Tuesday. But spokesman Ben Williams said that has been postponed until later this week because the real-time radiation monitors they want the team to be wearing haven't arrived.

NRC wants to see improvements at Xcel's Monticello nuke plant

Source: 
Star Tribune

The regional administrator for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the Star Tribune that Xcel Energy's Monticello nuclear power plant needs to do more to improve inadequate procedures, after it was cited last year for failing to have sufficient flood defenses in place.

Lawmakers again call on Obama to keep MOX open

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Lawmakers are again calling on the Obama administration to keep open a South Carolina facility to process weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel, arguing that plans to close the plant would jeopardize an international nonproliferation agreement and could trigger millions in federal penalties.

On Monday, House members including all of South Carolina's seven representatives — six Republicans and one Democrat — wrote to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz stressing the importance of the mixed-oxide processing plant at the Savannah River Site.

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