Monthly Archives: November 2010

Foreign waste still very much a part of EnergySolutions’ business plans

EnergySolutions a couple of months ago announced that it was abandoning plans to dispose of foreign radioactive waste at its landfill in Utah, but that doesn’t mean the company is moving away from treating foreign waste.
That was made clear with the latest application for a license to import rad waste from Germany to treat at the company’s Oak Ridge incinerator. Also, an EnergySolutions executive said today that bringing foreign waste to Oak Ridge could be a business growth area for the company.

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Catching up with Ned Sauthoff, ITER, and the Prince of Monaco

When you’re a player on a big multi-national project, you’re expected to travel a lot, and that’s apparently the case with Ned Sauthoff, director of the U.S. team on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor — the enormous fusion project that’s being built at Cadarache, France.
Last week, while trying to get up an update on U.S. ITER work (that’s based in Oak Ridge), I corresponded briefly by e-mail with Sauthoff, who at the time was either in Cadarache for an ITER Council meeting (the first with the new Director General) or in Monaco for something called the Monaco-ITER International Fusion Energy Days. Anyway, Sauthoff was back in Oak Ridge today and I talked with him for a few minutes by telephone.

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House passes nuclear R&D bill

The House passed the Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 2010 and, according to info from the Science and Technology Committee, it passed with bipartisan support by voice vote. In a statement, Commitee chairman and bill author Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., said, “The U.S. is losing its competitive edge in nuclear energy technology. This trend will represent billions of dollars in foregone opportunity for the U.S. But regaining our edge is not just a matter of keeping a foothold in a global marketplace with new competitors such as China.”

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EnergySolutions wants to burn tons of radioactive waste from Germany at Oak Ridge incinerator

EnergySolutions has applied for a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to import up to 1,000 tons of radioactive waste from Germany, with plans to burn the waste at the company’s Oak Ridge incinerator.
The contaminated ash would then be returned to Germany, according to the notice that appeared in today’s Federal Register.

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DOE doles out (the equivalent of) 135,000 super-duper laptops

jaguar.jpgIt’s always difficult for the Department of Energy to explain the importance and relevance of awarding billions of processor hours on its best supercomputers, including the Jaguar at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. So this year, in announcing the awards for 57 research projects on the Cray XT5 Jaguar at ORNL and the IBM Blue Gene/P “Intrepid” at Argonne National Lab in Illinois, DOE explained that it’s the equivalent of putting 135,000 quad-core laptops to work on extraordinary challenges — such as slowing the progression of Parkinson’s disease and making more-efficient solar cells a ready reality.
In announcing the INCITE (Innovative and Novel Computational Impact on Theory and Experiment) program awards, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “The Department of Energy’s supercomputers provide an enormous competitive advantage for the United States. This is a great example of how investments in innovation can help lead the way to new industries, new jobs, and new opportunities for America to succeed in the global marketplace.”

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Unexpected and highly radioactive

On Nov. 16, in preparation for removal of a hot cell at Building 324 at the Hanford site in Washington state, workers found evidence of a breach in the cell floor’s steel liner and leakage of highly radioactive materials into the underground soil. Radiation levels were reported to be as high as 8,900 rads per hour.
Here’s the DOE Occurrence Report. Here’s Annette Cary’s story in the Tri-City Herald.