Category Archives: Education

Research Reactor License Renewal Challenges

By Rod Adams

The process for renewing research and test reactor (RTR) licenses in the United States has been subject to lengthy delays and periodic backlogs since the early 1980s. Despite the apparent time invested in improvement efforts, the process does not seem to be getting better very fast. The difficulty, schedule uncertainty, and cost of renewing research reactor licenses adds to the burden of owning and operating research reactors. The scale of the challenge may contribute to regrettable institutional decisions that maintaining operable facilities is not worth the trouble.

Here is the background that led me to those conclusions:

A couple of weeks ago, one of the email lists I read provided an intriguing press release announcing the renewal of Dow Chemical Co.’s TRIGA research reactor located in Midland, Mich. The intriguing part of the story was that Dow had initially filed its application to review the license in April 2009 and the 20-year extension was awarded on June 18, 2014, more than five years later. One of the more frequent contributors to the list had the following reaction:

Seriously? It took more than five years to renew a TRIGA license? That in itself might be an interesting story.

I followed up with a request for information to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s public affairs office. Scott Burnell replied promptly with the following information:

The background on the staff’s ongoing effort to improve RTR license renewal goes back quite a ways. Here’s a relevant SECY and other material:

http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0921/ML092150717.pdf

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML120930333 (March 2012 Commission meeting transcript)

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML12087A060 (March 2012 Commission meeting staff slides)

http://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/main.jsp?AccessionNumber=ML12240A677 (regulatory basis for rulemaking to improve process)

I’ll check with the staff Monday on what information’s available re: staff hours on the Dow RTR renewal review.

Burnell sent the staff hour estimate for renewing the Dow TRIGA reactor license. Not including hours spent by contractors, the NRC staff took 1600 hours to review the renewal application. Since Dow is a for-profit company, it was charged $272 per hour, for a total of $435,000 plus whatever contractor costs were involved. That amount just covers the cost of regulator time, not the cost of salaries and contracts paid directly by Dow to prepare the license application, respond to requests for additional information (RAI), and engage in other communications associated with the applications.

Based on the cover letter for the issued license, Dow sent 19 letters to the NRC related to Dow’s application during the five-year process.

The references supplied by Burnell provided additional information about the process that is well known within the small community that specializes in research reactor operations, maintenance, and licensing.

For example, the last renewal of the Rensselaer Critical Facility, a 100-Watt open tank reactor that was originally licensed in 1965, was initially submitted in November 2002 and issued on June 27, 2011, nearly nine years later. The NRC did not send Rensselaer an RAI until three years after it had submitted its renewal application.

University of Missouri Research Reactor

University of Missouri Research Reactor (MURR)

In a second example, the University of Missouri-Columbia Research Reactor (MURR) submitted its most recent license application in August 2006. The NRC sent its first set of RAIs in July 2009 and followed up with at least five more sets of RAIs that included a total of 201 questions of varying complexity. According to the NRC’s listing of research reactors currently undergoing licensing review, the MURR license has not yet been issued.

A third example is the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute TRIGA reactor. Its license renewal application was submitted in July 2004 and is still under review. In 2012, AFRRI estimated that it would be spending at least $1 million for its share of the license review process, not including expenditures by the NRC. Since AFRRI is a government organization, the NRC does not bill it for fees. Burnell indicated that the staff hours expended on that project could be 6,000 or more. It is sadly amusing to review the brief provided by the AFRRI to the NRC in 2012 about the process. (See page 52–65 of the linked document.) The following quote is a sample that indicates the briefer’s level of frustration.

Question: Once the licensee demonstrates that the reactor does not pose a risk to the heath and safety of the public, what is the benefit provided to the public by the expenditure of $1M to answer the additional 142 RAIs?

In a quirk of fate, numerous research license renewals have often come due when NRC priorities have been reordered by external events. Research reactors receive 20-year licenses; numerous facilities were constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Dozens of renewals came due or were already under review in April 1979 when the Three Mile Island accident and its recovery became the NRC’s highest priority items.

About 20 years after that backlog got worked off, the 9/11-inspired security upgrades pushed everything else down on the priority list.

TRIGA at Oregon State University

TRIGA at Oregon State University

The research reactor office has experienced staffing shortages, often exacerbated by the small pool of people with sufficient knowledge and experience in the field. When the NRC hunts for talent, it is drawing from the same pool of people that staffs the plants and is responsible for filing the applications for license amendments and renewals.

One aspect of the law that eases the potential disruption of the licensing delays is a provision that allows continued facility operation as long as there was a timely submission of the renewal application. That provision, however, has often resulted in a lower priority being assigned to fixing the staffing shortages and the complex nature of the license application process.

The facility owners don’t want to complain too loudly about the amount of time that their application is taking, since they are not prohibited from operating due to an expired license. NRC budgeters and human resource personnel have not been pressured to make investments in improving their service level; not only do the customers have no other choice, but they have not squeaked very loudly. Here is a quote from a brief provided to the NRC by the chairman of the National Organization for Test, Research and Training Reactors (TRTR).

Position on License Renewal

  • TRTR recognizes the unique challenges imposed on NRC during RTR relicensing in the past decade (staffing issues, 9/11, etc.).
  • TRTR appreciates the efforts made by the Commission to alleviate the relicensing backlog.
  • TRTR appreciates the efforts of the NRC RTR group to update guidance for future relicensing efforts and the opportunity to participate in the update process via public meetings.

Generic Suggestions for Streamlining Relicensing

  • The process has become excessively complex compared to 20 years ago, with no quantifiable improvement to safety.
  • Consider the development of generic thermal hydraulic analysis models for TRIGA and plate-type fueled RTRs (1 MW or less).
  • Similarly for the Maximum Hypothetical Accident analysis.
  • Develop a systematic way outside of the RAI process to correct typographical and editing errors.
  • Develop a generic decommissioning cost analysis based on previous experiences, indexed to power level, and inflation.
  • Endorse the use of ANSI/ANS Standards in Regulatory Guidance.

(Pages 26–28 of the linked PDF document containing several briefs, each with its own slide numbering sequence.)

Once the high priority responses have died down and backlogs of license reviews in progress have reached levels in excess of 50 percent of the total number of research reactors in operation, the NRC has stepped in and directed improvement efforts. The staff has attempted to improve the process by issuing more guidance, but those attempts have often complicated and delayed the applications that are already under review.

The Interim Staff Guidance (ISG) issued in June 2009 appears to still be active; it is difficult to tell how much progress has been made on the long-range plan that ISG outlined. Once again, external events have changed the NRC’s priorities as most available resources during the past three years have been shifted to deal with the events that took place in Japan in 2011 and the effort to come up with some kind of waste confidence determination.

There are no easy solutions, but repairing the process will require focused and sustained management attention.

TRIGA at University of California, Davis

TRIGA at University of California, Davis

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Adams

Adams

Rod Adams is a nuclear advocate with extensive small nuclear plant operating experience. Adams is a former engineer officer, USS Von Steuben. He is the host and producer of The Atomic Show Podcast. Adams has been an ANS member since 2005. He writes about nuclear technology at his own blog, Atomic Insights.

Teacher Workshop at ANS Annual Meeting in Reno—Saturday, June 14

The American Nuclear Society’s Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information will sponsor a full-day teacher workshop on Saturday, June 14, at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada. The workshop—Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World—is for science educators, including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, physical science, life science, environmental, general science, and elementary teachers. The workshop will be held the day before the beginning of the ANS Annual Meeting in Reno.

“For this workshop we’re excited to partner with the Joint Institute of Nuclear Astrophysics,” said Tracy Coyle, ANS Outreach manager. “JINA will demonstrate their Marble Nuclei Project, and teachers will take home a marble nuclei along with a free Geiger counter. We have also received a generous donation of home radon kits from Landauer, Inc. to give away to our attendees.”

ANS members who would like to volunteer at the workshop, and/or observe the workshop to learn how to replicate teacher workshops in their local area, should contact Coyle.

This workshop will prepare attendees to teach the basics about radiation, how we detect radiation, and the uses of nuclear science and technology in society. Teachers who complete the workshop will receive a wealth of materials—background information, hands-on activities, and supplementary resources. Career opportunities in nuclear science and technology will be highlighted during the sessions.

chart of nuclides 200x266

Scheduled presenters include:

  • Dr. Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, assistant professor of Nuclear Engineering, Idaho State University, and research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory
  • Dr. Eric P. Loewen, Past President of the American Nuclear Society and chief engineer, General Electric, Wilmington, NC
  • Dr. Micha Kilburn, JINA Outreach coordinator, University of Notre Dame, South Bend, IN

Other educators and nuclear specialists may also make presentations.

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Please visit the ANS website for much more information, including mail-in and online registration forms. The workshop will be limited in size to optimize interaction with presenters. Registration is on a first-come first-served basis.

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Detecting alpha and beta particles with cloud chamber

There is a $95 nonrefundable early bird registration fee for teachers to reserve a place at the workshop, which includes continental breakfast, lunch, and workshop materials. Hurry, registration fee becomes $149 after April 18. The registration deadline is Monday, May 26.

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Funding for this workshop is provided in part by individual and organizational contributions to the ANS Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information.

Where Do Nuclear Engineering Students Work After Graduation?

By Lenka Kollar

Earlier this month, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) published its annual survey on nuclear engineering enrollment and degrees (check out the full report here). The 2013 data shows enrollment and the number of graduates in nuclear engineering programs along with a survey of where students are working after graduation.

There are a total of 32 universities granting nuclear engineering degrees or nuclear engineering options within another major in the United States. In 2013, a total of 655 students graduated with a Bachelor of Science, 362 with a Master of Science, and 147 with a Doctorate in nuclear engineering. Universities graduating more than 50 nuclear engineering students last year, starting with the largest programs, include:

The number of students graduating from nuclear engineering programs continues on a considerable upward trend over the past decade, as shown in the figure below. More recently, total enrollment has dropped 9 percent for undergraduates and 5 percent for graduate students since 2012. The overall trend of increasing graduation rates can likely be attributed to the “nuclear renaissance” in the United States and globally that was gaining momentum around 2008, and thus students attracted to the growth of the nuclear industry at that point would be graduating about now. The slight dip in enrollment rates more recently might be attributable to the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that occurred in 2011, resulting in a slowing down of the nuclear renaissance worldwide. ORISE expects the number of bachelor’s nuclear engineering graduates to level to about 600 per year over the next couple of years.

nuclear engineering graduates per year 480x326

The ORISE survey also included data on where nuclear engineering graduates find employment after graduation. Unfortunately, the post-graduation plans of a third of the total students are unreported or unknown. Another 7 percent report seeking employment. Taking out the unknown data, we can still get some interesting insight into where nuclear engineering students are going after graduation.

First of all, nearly half of graduating students continue with school to obtain higher degrees or serve in a post-doctorate position. This reflects the intense research and technical nature of the nuclear field. As for graduates who seek employment, the chart below shows where students are going to work with different degrees. The government sector includes local, state, and federal government along with military and government contractors. Industry includes working at a nuclear utility or other nuclear-related industry. Academic employment does not include continued study. And the “other” category includes employment in other industries and foreign (non-U.S.) employment.

nuclear engineering student employment after graduation 480x229

Graduates with a B.S. in nuclear engineering tend to work in industry more so than graduate students, while graduate students have a higher proportion working in government. Many more Ph.D. students work in academia as professors and fewer enter the nuclear industry. When making the case to the federal government to support nuclear engineering education, it is interesting to note that nearly half of all nuclear engineering students work for the government after graduation.

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kollar c 124x150Lenka Kollar is the owner & editor of Nuclear Undone, a blog and consulting company focusing on educating the public about nuclear energy and nonproliferation issues. She is an active ANS member, serving on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Technical Group Executive Committee, Student Sections Committee, and Professional Women in ANS Committee. Connect with Lenka on LinkedIN and Twitter.

Nuclear Matinee: NASA Artificial Intelligence Unit on Fission vs. Fusion

Fans of the popular games Portal and Portal II will get a kick out of this one—or just fans of evil and corrupt artificial intelligences—or just fans of nuclear fission, fusion, and astronomy.

As part of the education and public outreach department of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, an A.I. system is brought online to manage the NASA servers—but unfortunately, and of course completely unexpectedly, it turns out to be mad with lust for power.

In the process of dealing with this highly entertaining, if evil, machine, brilliant computer technicians learn about the A.I. system’s fusion and fission power cores and the basic science of the processes behind them—and even how old the light is that we see from the sun, among other interesting things.

Thanks to NASA Spitzer YouTube for this fine video.

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Atomic Fission Fun with Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago

by Lenka Kollar

On Saturday, January 25, 2014, members of the American Nuclear Society’s Chicago Section organized and participated in “Atomic Fission Fun,” an event for Girl Scouts to learn about nuclear science. Sixty middle school students from the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana traveled to the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Wheaton, Ill., to participate.

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The daylong event included an introduction to nuclear science along with the following breakout sessions:

  • Half-Life and Medical Uses of Radiation
  • Radiation Uses and Dose Counting Experiment
  • Nuclear Energy and Fission
  • It’s Your Planet—Love It!

The Girl Scouts rotated around the sessions, each one including an educational presentation and fun hands-on learning activity. The pictures below are of the fission game. The students all get balloons, blue for neutrons and red for protons. They are put into groups to act like nuclei. One student starts as the “neutron generator” and throws blue balloons at the nuclei. If the students are hit, they are instructed to break apart and throw their neutrons at other nuclei, and so on. Some students also act as “control rods” and try to steal blue balloons to control the reaction. This game teaches the students how fission and the chain reaction work in a manner that they can understand.

The Fission Game begins

Nucleus about to break apart

Neutrons appear to be escaping reactor core

A neutron appears to be escaping reactor core

After the breakout sessions, the Girl Scouts stayed with their groups and played Jeopardy, with clues on topics that they learned throughout the day. It was amazing to see how much knowledge the students retained. The students even said that the final Jeopardy question was “too easy.” It’s a great day for nuclear science outreach when young women are expounding on what gamma rays and uranium atoms are.

The Girl Scouts walked away with the new ANS patch and knowledge on nuclear science concepts. The ANS volunteers from Argonne National Laboratory, Exelon Nuclear, and Nuclear Undone were also able to tell the students about their careers. We hope that the event made the Girl Scouts more excited about science, uses of radiation, and nuclear energy.

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The Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana organization is encouraging more young women to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math fields and has numerous STEM programs in the Chicago area.

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ANS volunteers (left to right): Natalie Zaczek, Jill Fisher, Jeff Dunlap, Candice Schmidt, Kirsten Laurin-Kovitz, Laural Briggs, and Lenka Kollar

ANS volunteer J'Tia Taylor and friends

ANS volunteer J’Tia Taylor and friends

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Lenka_Kollar_Portrait_120x150Lenka Kollar is the Owner & Editor of Nuclear Undone, a blog and consulting company focusing on educating the public about nuclear energy and nonproliferation issues. She is an active ANS member, serving on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Technical Group Executive Committee, Student Sections Committee, and Professional Women in ANS Committee. Connect with Lenka on LinkedIN and Twitter.

National Nuclear Science Week 2013 Is Next Week – Just Around the Corner

By Suzy Hobbs Baker

NNSW13Poster 220x281In case you haven’t already seen all of the tweets, facebook posts and posters, I am thrilled to let you know that next week is National Nuclear Science Week for 2013! For the past two years I’ve been very lucky to participate as a Steering Committee member for this educational and very fun event, which continues to grow exponentially each year thanks to our fantastic team of nuclear educators.

In addition to local events all over the country, the NNSW team holds a “big event” in a different city each year, and this year it is in Aiken, South Carolina. As you probably already know, South Carolina is a very nuclear-friendly state—we get half of our electricity from nuclear energy. We also have a very strong nuclear nonprofit presence in the state, with the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization leading efforts on the ground for activities throughout the region next week.

Each day of the week offers something new to explore:

Monday is “Get to Know Nuclear” Day — with activities scheduled for local students at the Ruth Patrick Education Center in Aiken. We will also kick off NNSW with Citizen for Nuclear Technology’s annual Teller Lecture, with Keynote Speaker Marv Fertel from the Nuclear Energy Institute on Monday evening at the Aiken Convocation Center.

Tuesday is “Careers in the Nuclear Field” Day — with a webinar called Journey to the Center of the Atom as well as “Workforce Development Day” at the Kroc Center in Aiken. I will be there sharing my experiences as a Nuclear Tourist, and IndyCar Racer Simona De Silvestro will be joining us to talk about the importance of diversity in STEM careers and to show students her super cool race car!

The author and Simona De Silvestro at NNSW 2012

The author and Simona De Silvestro at NNSW 2012

Wednesday is “Nuclear Generation” Day — which will appropriately be a day of tours for students to Plant Vogtle. Tours of the Savannah River Site and VC Summer will also be available throughout the week.

Thursday is “Nuclear Safety” Day — which will feature “Journey to the Center of the Atom,” Fundamentals of Nuclear Fuel and Career Opportunities at Georgia Regents University.

Friday celebrates “Nuclear Medicine” and will feature programming at the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie.

Events will be going on across the country – make sure to check with your local ANS, NAYGN and WIN chapters to see how you can get involved with National Nuclear Science Week in your community. You can use the NNSW Celebration Guide to get ideas for outreach and make sure to let us know how you reached out to your community!!

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suzy hobbs baker 120x148Suzy Hobbs Baker is the executive director of PopAtomic Studios, a nonprofit organization that conducts educational outreach through the Nuclear Literacy Project.  She is an ANS member and a frequent contributor to ANS Nuclear Cafe.  Read her recent experiences traveling through Europe at Diary of a Nuclear Tourist – an initiative of the Nuclear Literacy Project

The 2013 Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation

By Matthew Gidden and Nicholas Thompson

From July 7 –12, 16 students from around the country came to Washington DC to talk with politicians and policymakers about nuclear engineering education funding, energy policy, and other nuclear issues as part of the 2013 Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD). This year the delegation was comprised of students with especially diverse backgrounds, including nuclear engineering, chemical engineering, materials science, and nuclear safeguards policy. The chair of the delegation was Matthew Gidden, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying nuclear engineering and energy policy. He was assisted by two co-vice chairs: Mark Reed of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Nicholas Thompson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The NESD began in 1994 as a response to deep cuts in funding for nuclear research reactors in the fiscal year 1995 budget. Funding was ultimately restored to the program in part due to the efforts of these first delegates. Following this initial success, the NESD has returned every year to bring the voice of nuclear engineering students to Washington. This year, we had the distinct honor to meet with key governmental affairs staff at Areva and from the Nuclear Energy Institute, high-level staff at the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, four of the five Nuclear Regulatory Commission commissioners (including the chairman), non-proliferation experts at the Department of State, budget staff at the Office of Management and Budget, congressional staff on the Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works Committees, and over 100 congressional offices including some meetings with representatives and senators in person.

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Left to right: Lane Carasik, Andrew Cartas, Nicholas Thompson (Co-Vice Chair), Buckley O’Day, Erin Dughie, Tom Grimes, Benjamin Reinke, Vishal Patel, Matthew Gidden (chair), Thomas Holschuh, Mark Reed (co-vice chair), Shelly Arreguin, Anagha Iyengar, and Ekaterina Paramonova

Policy statement writing

First, the entire group gathered in a meeting room at the hotel and spent the first hour or so talking about what we considered to be the important issues facing nuclear engineering education. After everyone had a chance to express their thoughts, the chairs gave a quick recap of everything that had been discussed. The delegates emphasized two subjects: continued funding of the Integrated University Program and passage of the Nuclear Waste Administration Act. A number of other issues were addressed, including domestic fusion research funding, energy policy, nuclear export agreements, and neutron detectors for port security. After the break for lunch, the delegates divided back into groups and drafted each section of the policy statement. At the end of the day the group edited the sections together. The delegates read the combined document and agreed upon its content by consensus. Throughout the week, the delegates distributed this statement in meetings with congressional offices and other organizations. This year’s policy statement can be found here.

Areva meeting

On Monday morning, the delegates had their first meeting with the governmental affairs staff of Areva. The meeting began with a general presentation by the vice president of governmental affairs on Areva’s international business portfolio. The Areva staff gave a presentation about the mixed-oxide fuel project and its importance to our joint arms reduction commitments with Russia. They also discussed the business importance of being active in policy discussions in DC. The morning concluded with a discussion with Mary Alice Hayward on her experiences in nonproliferation and the importance of technical expertise in international agreements.

NEI meeting

On Monday afternoon, the delegation visited the Nuclear Energy Institute. Leslie Barbour and other staff members described the function of NEI and how the organization operates. They then discussed the importance of building and maintaining relationships with congressional staff. They also explained NEI’s surveys and data on the nuclear workforce. We ended the meeting discussing our policy statement and received helpful feedback.

Dinner with congressional fellows

On Monday evening, the delegation had dinner with Lara Pierpoint (American Association for the Advancement of Science congressional fellow working for Senator Ron Wyden, D., Oregon) and Ron Faibish (science fellow for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources). These young scholars shared their experiences on the Hill and specifically spoke about their efforts in crafting the Nuclear Waste Administration Act.

DOE meeting

On Tuesday morning, the delegation visited the Department of Energy to meet with the Office of Nuclear Energy. The program leads for NE’s Fuel Cycle R&D, Light Water Reactor Technologies, and Nuclear Engineering University Program (NEUP) discussed the myriad of funding and programmatic opportunities for research provided by NE. The staff discussed some of the priorities in specific research areas and the importance of Integrated University Program (IUP) funding. Brad Williams spoke about the various forms of funding for graduate education, discussing the NEUP Scholarships and Fellowships (funded through the IUP) and the research grants that provide graduate research assistantships at specific universities. We then had lunch with Pete Lyons, the DOE’s assistant secretary of energy for nuclear energy, who shared his perspective on how DC operates and the importance of nuclear engineering research to our nation’s future.

NRC meeting

On Tuesday afternoon, the delegation went to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission headquarters in Rockville, Md. The delegation met with NRC education staff, who described the various methods by which the NRC provides educational enrichment opportunities to universities—through graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, and curriculum development grants. The staff discussed internal metrics used to ensure the effectiveness of the programs and reiterated that none of these programs would be possible without the IUP. We also had the great fortune of meeting with three of the commissioners: Chairman Allison Macfarlane, Commissioner George Apostolakis, and Commissioner William Ostendorff. We had very robust discussions with all three commissioners about many different topics, including small modular reactors, Gen-IV technology, linear no-threshold dose, IUP funding, and commercial reprocessing.

Department of State meeting

On Wednesday morning, the delegation met Gilbert Brown and Ryan Taugher at the Department of State. Brown, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell and current Foster fellow at the Department of State, explained the concept “Team USA” and the importance of the international framework on nuclear security. Taugher explained the structure of the Department of State and the framework for the Partnership for Nuclear Security (PNS). Through the PNS, the Department of State establishes cooperative partnerships with other nations to support the peaceful use of nuclear energy and achieve mutually beneficial nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation objectives.

OMB meeting

The delegation’s annual meeting with the Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday afternoon was the most notable in recent memory. Christine MacDonald, one of the employees responsible for allocating DOE funds, discussed current budgeting. A representative from the National Science Foundation (NSF) discussed the President’s Science, Technology, Engineering & Math initiative, NSF fellowships, NEUP, and IUP. The delegation provided recent statistical evidence showing that the majority of nuclear engineering graduate students work for the U.S. government after completing their studies, effectively communicated how NEUP and IUP have helped increase the attractiveness of the nuclear field to graduate students, and provided numerous examples of how IUP has allowed students to conduct important nuclear research that would not otherwise be funded.

Dinner with NRC Commissioner Magwood

On Wednesday evening, the delegation had dinner with Commissioner Magwood, who cares deeply about student issues. We discussed our meetings with the other three commissioners, recent events in the nuclear industry (e.g., shutdown of San Onofre and Kewaunee), and the IUP and the NRC’s role in education and workforce development. Magwood imparted wisdom from his past experiences as chairman of the Generation IV International Forum and working with the Fast Flux Test Facility.

Hill visits

On Thursday and Friday, the delegation accomplished its main objective on the Hill. Delegates met with or dropped by the offices of all 100 senators as well as 42 representatives. The delegates also personally met with five senators (Maria Cantwell, D., Wash.; Patty Murray, D., Wash.; Jeff Merkley, D., Oregon; Mike Lee, R., Utah; Tom Harkin, D., Iowa) and five representatives (Ralph Hall, R., Texas; Steve Stivers, R., Ohio; Chris Gibson, D., N.Y.; John Garamendi, D., Calif.; Bill Flores, R., Texas). The remainder of meetings took place with congressional staffers and committees. The delegation’s presence was well received and there were many conversations and an overall interest in learning more, leaving us with the impression that our efforts indeed left a mark of influence this year. In particular, as our visits earlier in the week to the NEI, NE, and NRC showed broad support for the Nuclear Waste Administration Act, many of the congressional offices were interested in learning more about the bill or already supported it. Some memorable discussions included one with Senator Feinstein’s office, which is working on the Nuclear Waste Administration Act. They stated that nuclear waste storage issues are more political than technological, and that they are open to implementing nuclear power in the future to reduce carbon emissions if a waste storage solution is adopted. In addition to discussion of our statement, delegates also had the opportunity to discuss other nuclear-related topics and applications such as nuclear desalination and nuclear development of U.S. oil shale. Delegates established relationships that will be extremely valuable in the future, and we look forward to observing the delegation’s impact as the year progresses.

Thursday dinner

Thursday night we were pleased to have dinner with ANS/AAAS fellow Vincent Esposito and Annie Caputo of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Esposito gave some great career advice and talked about some of the legislation he’s been working on.

Friday breakfast

The following morning, we had breakfast with Leslie Barbour of NEI and Craig Piercy, the ANS Washington representative. Piercy talked about the ongoing challenges with Yucca Mountain and the need for people with technical experience coming to Washington.

Summary

This was one of the best NESDs in recent memory, and it would not have been possible without the help of many individuals and organizations. We’d like to especially thank Leslie Barbour for her instrumental role in facilitating meetings and for her continued support and guidance of NESD over the years. The NESD would also like to thank NEI and ANS for supporting the NESD financially, as well as the individual institutions of each of the delegates for supporting their travel expenses. We would also like to thank the other organizations, offices, congressmen, and other officials with which we were able to meet; each meeting brought different insights and points of view to these issues. The NESD is always looking for enthusiastic and articulate technical leaders with a desire to influence policy. If you are interested in being part of the NESD or meeting with us next year, please visit our website or email us.

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Left to right: Jeremy Pearson, Thomas Holschuh, Mark Reed (co-vice chair), Ekaterina Paramonova, Andrew Cartas, Lane Carasik, Erin Dughie, Matthew Gidden (chair), Buckley O’Day, Benjamin Reinke, Tom Grimes, Anagha Iyengar, Dr. Gilbert Brown, Vishal Patel

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gidden 120x160Matthew Gidden is a Ph.D. student in nuclear engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a member of the Computational Nuclear Engineering Research Group under Professor Paul Wilson, and his research focuses on modeling and simulation of the nuclear fuel cycle.

 

thompson 120x155Nicholas Thompson is a Ph.D. student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute studying nuclear engineering and science. His current research is on using a lead slowing-down spectrometer to measure various nuclear data at the Gaerttner Linear Accelerator Center.

Reminder: National Nuclear Science Week, October 21-25

Get to Know Nuclear

The annual celebration of the benefits of nuclear science and technology, National Nuclear Science Week, is observed this year on  October 21—25, 2013.  Nuclear professionals—help spread the word!

mars rovers 242x133From curing cancer, to powering our exploration of the solar system, to helping maintain a thriving clean and green planet here at home—raising awareness of the powerful benefits of the world’s most powerful science and promising technology is extremely timely. A visit to a classroom, a presentation at the local library, an op-ed in the local paper—linking on social media—the possibilities are endless. A great place for ideas is the official National Nuclear Science Week website, loaded with information on how to learn, teach, and celebrate nuclear science and technology. See the National Nuclear Science Week Celebration Guide for even more ideas.

Each day of the week of October 21–25, participating organizations across the United States will promote different aspects of nuclear science:

  • Monday, October 21:  Get to know nuclear
  • Tuesday, October 22:  Careers in the nuclear fields
  • Wednesday, October 23:  Nuclear energy generation
  • Thursday, October 24:  Nuclear safety
  • Friday, October 25:  Nuclear medicine

national museum of nuclear science reactions welcome 160x100The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, in Albuquerque, N.M., is organizing the event and has made teacher resources available online here. The American Nuclear Society is helping to sponsor the week—more details on events coming soon.

Introduce the next generation of  scientists and engineers to the applications of nuclear technologies in everyday life! Stay up-to-date by signing up for National Nuclear Science Week email updates.

Construction at Plant Vogtle, Georgia

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From the ANS Annual Meeting (Photoblog)

The Opening Plenary at the 2013 ANS Annual Meeting is now underway—and it’s amazing how much goes on before the “Opening”. Already on Saturday morning a Teachers Workshop was in progress, and Saturday evening the Global Leadership Reception was in full swing. A few select photos:

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Candace Davison, senior reactor operator at Penn State University, begins at the beginning with the discovery of the mysterious “X-ray” (not her hand projected onto screen).

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Radiation is all around us in our radioactive world. Easy to detect with a Geiger counter.

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Almost unbelievable—one can see “trails” of individual alpha and beta particles using a simple cloud chamber.

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Detecting radioactive particles.

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Meanwhile, the setting for the ANS Annual Meeting, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

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From the elevator.

Stay tuned for coverage of the 2013 ANS Annual Meeting now officially underway.  And better yet, follow on twitter #ansmeeting

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ANS Conference on Nuclear Training and Education (CONTE) 2013

The 2013 Conference on Nuclear Training and Education took place on February 3–6 in Jacksonville, Florida. More than 300 participants and 26 exhibitors contributed to make this conference a success. Trainers and educators from industry and higher education covered a range of topics, from operator fundamentals to leadership strategies in the nuclear industry.

Co-chairs Jane LeClair and Patrick Berry

Co-chairs Jane LeClair and Patrick Berry

Co-chairs  Jane LeClair and Patrick Berry joined General Chair Audeen Fentiman and guest speaker Admiral (Ret.) Robert F. Willard, president and CEO of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, to open the plenary session. Numerous speakers, including ANS president-elect and Excel Services president and CEO Donald Hoffman, discussed the purpose of the CONTE 2013 conference and the unique opportunity the conference represented to bridge the gap between industry and education. CONTE 2013 featured many examples of the use of advanced simulation software, the role of leadership and mentoring in the nuclear industry, as well as the focus on quality, efficiency, and safety in the post-Fukushima nuclear era.

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CONTE 2013 Official Program

Of special note are sessions that will be offered in a Best of CONTE 2013 session under the Education, Training, and Workforce Development Division at the 2013 ANS Winter Meeting and Nuclear Technology Expo, to be held in Washington DC, November 10–14, 2013. The Best of CONTE session topics include nuclear uniform curriculum, holding the line on the SAT, leadership development, and personnel training.
CONTE is one of the primary avenues through which knowledge is shared with trainers and educators and throughout the industry. LeClair and Berry announced that the next CONTE conference will be held on February 2–5, 2015, in Jacksonville, Florida.

The 2013 CONTE Proceedings are available now at the ANS Store.
Enter “CONTESave” to get 10% off your purchase.

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Nuclear Engineering PE Exam Workshop at June ANS Meeting

Sunday, June 16, 2013
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Learning Center

For American Nuclear Society members planning to sit for the nuclear engineering Professional Engineering exam, a professional development workshop, titled “Preparing for the Nuclear Engineering Professional Engineering Exam,” will be offered on Sunday, June 16, at the ANS Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

nuclear engineers 160x120Instructors will provide details on how registering to take the exam differs from state to state, plus an overview of the examination formats. The four basic skill areas—nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle, interaction of radiation, and nuclear criticality/kinetics/neutronics—will be discussed in detail. For each skill area, the instructor will describe the topics and the skills to be tested.

Examples of questions will be presented in depth, after which students will work other typical test questions on their own. Instructors will provide assistance, then review solutions with the group. Students will be provided with the ANS study guide, including a sample exam and a list of recommended resources for continued study.

nuclear engineer 1 168x120Join us in Atlanta for “Preparing for the Nuclear Engineering Professional Engineering Exam” at the June ANS meeting.

NOTE: If you are unable to attend the ANS meeting in June to participate in the workshop, you can order a copy of the PE study guide—as a downloadable PDF file—at the ANS Store.

Early Bird Special meeting registration and hotel reservation, with complimentary in-room internet, is available through this Friday, May 24.  Reduced rate for the PE Exam Professional Development Workshop is also available through May 24. There is no need to be registered for the 2013 ANS Annual Meeting to participate in this Professional Development Workshop.

Still not convinced? Former ANS Young Members Group Chair Jennifer Varnedoe explains the many good reasons to get your Professional Engineer license.

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National Nuclear Science Week: October 21-25 2013

Get to Know Nuclear

nnsw logo 200x151Mark your calendars well in advance for National Nuclear Science Week—the annual celebration of the remarkable achievements and contributions of nuclear science and technology. National Nuclear Science Week will be commemorated October 21–25, 2013.

curiosity rover 177x100From curing cancer, to powering our exploration of the Solar System, to helping maintain a thriving clean and green planet here at home, the world’s most powerful science and promising technology is well worth celebrating and exploring further. A great place to start is the official National Nuclear Science Week website, loaded with information and ideas on how to learn, teach, and celebrate nuclear science and technology. See the National Nuclear Science Week Celebration Guide for even more ideas.

Each day of the week of October 21‑25, participating organizations across the United States will promote different aspects of nuclear science:

  • Monday, October 21:  Get to know nuclear
  • Tuesday, October 22:  Careers in the nuclear fields
  • Wednesday, October 23:  Nuclear energy generation
  • Thursday, October 24:  Nuclear safety
  • Friday, October 25:  Nuclear medicine

national museum of nuclear science reactions welcome 160x100The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, in Albuquerque, N.M., is organizing the event and has made teacher resources available online here. The American Nuclear Society is helping to sponsor the week  and will be posting information and resources to help ANS local and student sections organize activities.

Enormous ALEPH detector was instrumental in discovering Higgs boson

Enormous ALEPH detector instrumental in discovering Higgs boson

Take a moment to consider how you can collaborate with teachers, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, and others to promote National Nuclear Science Week. Introduce the next generation of  scientists and engineers to the applications of nuclear technologies in everyday life. Contact the ANS Outreach Department for assistance and suggestions.

More information will be coming as exciting events and activities are under development. Stay up-to-date by signing up for National Nuclear Science Week email updates.

Nuclear construction at Plant Vogtle, Georgia

Construction at Plant Vogtle, Georgia

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A Boy And His Atom – The World’s Smallest Movie

A group of IBM researchers have created the world’s smallest movie – starring 130 atoms (well, the oxygen atoms of carbon monoxide molecules).  An atomic-scale must-see!

That’s definitely a lot of fun.  But the real fun is how they did it.  A great “making of” documentary below.  Enjoy!

Science and technology reporter John Roach does a fine job on the story at NBC News.

Thanks to International Business Machines Corporation

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ANS to hold teacher workshop at Annual Meeting in Atlanta on June 15

The American Nuclear Society’s Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information and the ANS Outreach Department will sponsor a full-day teacher workshop on Saturday, June 15, in Atlanta, Georgia. The workshop—Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World—is for science educators, including elementary, biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, physical science, life science, environmental, and general science teachers. The workshop will be held the day before the beginning of the ANS Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

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Table of Nuclides at June 2012 workshop

This full-day workshop will prepare attendees to teach the basics about radiation, how we detect radiation, and the uses of nuclear science and technology in society. Teachers who complete the workshop will receive a wealth of materials—background information, hands-on activities, and supplementary resources—as well as a free Geiger counter. Career opportunities in nuclear science and technology will be highlighted during the sessions.

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“We’re excited to be offering this overview of radiation and nuclear science to teachers,” said Chuck Vincent, ANS Outreach administrator. “Workshop participants are always eager to receive their free Geiger counters and learn about hands-on demonstrations that they can use in their classrooms.”

Scheduled presenters include:

  • Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, assistant professor of Nuclear Engineering, Idaho State University, and research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory
  • Candace Davison, senior reactor operator and educational specialist, Breazeale Reactor, Penn State University
  • William “Art” Wharton, III, principal project engineer,
    Westinghouse Electrical Company; Monroeville, Pa.
  • Eric Loewen, past president of the American Nuclear Society, and chief engineer–General Electric, Wilmington, N.C.
  • William Wabberson, Facility Evaluation Board, SRNS,
    member of Savannah River Local Section of ANS, Aiken, S.C.

Other educators and nuclear specialists may also make presentations.

Please visit the ANS website for more information, including an informative announcement flyer and online registration form. The workshop will be limited in size to optimize interaction with presenters. Registration is on a first-come first-served basis.

There is a $89 nonrefundable registration fee—which includes continental breakfast, lunch, printed materials, and a Civil Defense Surplus analog radiation monitor—for teachers to reserve a place at the workshop. Hurry, registration fee is $135 after May 15.  The registration deadline is Tuesday May 28.

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Detecting alpha and beta particles with cloud chamber

Funding for the workshop is provided in part by individual and organizational contributions to ANS’s Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information.

The following video provides feedback from teachers and presenters who attended an ANS teacher workshop held before the 2011 ANS Annual Meeting in Hollywood, Fla.

Friday Nuclear Matinee: Nuclear Power – How It Works

With Unit 6 returning from a planned maintenance outage earlier this week, all 8 reactors at the world’s largest nuclear electrical generating station are now online, generating emission-free electricity from the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario, Canada (“Full Power at the Bruce“).

So… who better to demonstrate “How Nuclear Power Works” than Ontario Power Generation, owners of “The Bruce” (and owner/operators of the Pickering and Darlington nuclear generating stations)?  Unless it would be Bruce Power, licensed developers and operators of the Bruce station.  But let’s start here with a fine feature by OPG.  Enjoy!

(also including bonus features on Hydroelectric Power and Thermal Power which are quite interesting in their own right)


Thanks to Ontario Power Generation

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