There is considerable interest on the part of the U.S. Government to support the economic viability of emerging advanced reactor technologies. But for these reactors to be successful in domestic and international markets, the U.S. must reconsider regulatory requirements that were initially developed for the existing U.S. fleet of large light water reactors.
As chair of the Nuclear Security and Physical Protection (NSPP) technical division of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), USA Nuclear’s Joe Rivers conducts industry-leading technical workshops on risk-informing security. These workshops are meant to better prepare nuclear technology professionals to better protect nuclear infrastructure. Across the series, key conclusions have emerged.
Sandia National Laboratories, on behalf of the NNSA International Nuclear Security program, is creating a methodology that will allow advanced reactor (AR) developers to, in advance, assess the economic value of potential alterations of their designs to meet security requirements to send their technology overseas. Known as a “security-by-design economic tool,” in simple terms, it boils down to making up-front design changes that could increase capital costs played off against decreasing operational costs over the life of the plant. But, like all things nuclear, nothing is simple.
Commercial nuclear power plant operators are required to provide protection of their plants against radiological sabotage, including the identification of areas that contain equipment, systems, and components that must be protected to prevent malicious acts that could directly or indirectly endanger the public health and safety by causing exposure to radiation. This process – identifying areas that need to be protected against sabotage – is known as vital area identification. USA Nuclear is a recognized leader in this environment.
The US Must Take Steps NOW to Assure that Advanced Reactor Designs Slated for International Use Include Strong Security Protection
It is axiomatic that without growing future electricity demand, there is little incentive to add new generating facilities (regardless of technology). Absent an unpredicted major upsurge in electric vehicle market penetration, EIA tells us that electricity demand growth in the U.S. will remain virtually flat at least until 2050. U.S.-based advanced reactor suppliers will, of necessity, focus near-term marketing in other countries.
Leveraging Commercial Nuclear Security Experience and Technology using Security Risk Assessment (SRA) Tools
Commercial nuclear plants are safe and secure. Bill Gates said in 2012, “Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy,” and that is still valid today. A large contribution to the impressive safety records at nuclear plants is the strong security force and systems in place to prevent adversaries from causing radiological sabotage.
That was the question posed by the Department of Energy’s Office of International Nuclear Security (INS) to USA Nuclear’s Douglas Abell. His answer was a 1-day training course for INS personnel stationed at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) on domestic nuclear power plant security.
USA Nuclear Leads Efforts to Develop Federal Cybersecurity Program for Protecting Critical Infrastructure
Through a collaborative partnership with Sandia National Laboratories, Idaho National Laboratories, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Los Alamos National Laboratories, USA Nuclear guided efforts to secure Federal funding to develop the Tracer FIRE program.
After more than twenty years in nuclear power plant security, USA Nuclear’s Doug Abell knows what young nuclear engineers need before entering the industry.
Decommissioning is the process by which nuclear power plants are retired from service and terminate the operating licenses they’d been granted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. To ensure that decommissioning is safe and environmentally sound, the NRC has established clear regulations and associated guidance outlining the requirements and processes companies must follow. This decommissioning process facilitates participation by state and local authorities at several points along the way.