The Nuclear Regulatory Commission discussed its fiscal 2017 budget request before lawmakers on Wednesday. NRC Chairman Stephen Burns testified about the budget request and other matters before the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies.
Many communities in Vermont would disagree with their senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' energy plan, which calls for the construction of thousands of wind turbines. "I know of no place in the state where we can place industrial wind turbines without creating an unacceptable level of damage to our environment and our people," said Vermont state Sen. John Rodgers, a Democrat. In 2015, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association voted unanimously to stand against the construction of wind turbines in its region.
The Pillsbury law firm in Washington, D.C., has been chosen to investigate anonymous allegations of performance and security concerns at Energy Northwest's Columbia Generating Station in Washington state. Anonymous letters were sent to the utility's governing board that accused company executives of hiding information regarding poor performance at the plant.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have a radiation specialist look into a recent tritium leak in the groundwater below Entergy's Indian Point nuclear plant in New York. The specialist's tasks will include a review of the plant's investigation and the performance of visual inspections, according to Neil Sheehan of the NRC.
The cleanup at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan is progressing slowly. The company is building better tanks to hold irradiated water, and an ice wall has been built around the reactor buildings. However, the disposal of radioactive debris remains a challenge, according to a company official. "In the last five years, radiation levels have been reduced substantially, and we can say that the plant is stable now," said plant superintendent Akira Ono.
Penultimate Power says small modular reactors could be online before the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK. Penultimate is in talks with companies, while the Hinkley Point project is awaiting a final investment decision.
A French energy law could lead to the closure of one-third of Electricite de France's nuclear reactors by 2025, according to an annual report from audit office Cour des Comptes. "Only a very significant increase of electricity use or power exports could limit the number of closures, but experts do not expect this will happen," notes the report. The energy transition law calls for a reduction of nuclear's share in France's energy production to 50%.
China could become a global provider of nuclear technology if it can display reliability in its operations and adherence to safety regulations, write Jost Wubbeke and Guan Ting. "A pivotal step to demonstrating the reliability of the technology is a more transparent nuclear industry and safety regime within China itself," they write.
A new entity in Japan will be created to focus on the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel after the approval of a bill by the Japanese cabinet last week. The bill will also reserve funding for used nuclear fuel reprocessing efforts by creating a system that calls for contributions from nuclear plant operators.
The Supreme Court has put a hold on the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, pending a lower court's ruling on a challenge. A group of 29 states and several groups and companies have appealed the plan. Observers say the 5-4 vote indicates some skepticism toward the plan.
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