DOE picks Idaho for nuclear test reactor

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to build a nuclear test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory to study fuels and materials.

Besides INL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had been considered as a potential site for the Versatile Test Reactor. ORNL remains one of five national laboratories that are partners on the project. DOE said building the test reactor at INL was its preferred alternative.

At ORNL, the Versatile Test Reactor would have been at a relatively undeveloped site previously considered for other projects about a mile east of the ORNL main campus. It would have required a new hot cell and a facility for post-irradiation examination and the conditioning of spent nuclear fuel for disposal. It would also have used existing facilities at ORNL, including the Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory and the Irradiated Material Examination and Testing Facility.

DOE said building the Versatile Test Reactor at either INL or ORNL would have small environmental consequences, but overall, the consequences would be less at the INL site. Among the reasons: A smaller area would be temporarily disturbed and permanently occupied at INL because of the need to build a new hot cell facility at ORNL. Unlike the INL site, the ORNL location abuts wetlands that would have to be managed or avoided under the Clean Water Act and Tennessee regulations. The removal of trees at ORNL would result in the loss of roosting habitat for sensitive bat species. And although small at both locations, the potential radiological impacts would be lower at INL because the Versatile Test Reactor would be farther from the site boundary and population density is lower near INL than ORNL.

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Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to build a nuclear test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory to study fuels and materials.

Besides INL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had been considered as a potential site for the Versatile Test Reactor. ORNL remains one of five national laboratories that are partners on the project. DOE said building the test reactor at INL is its preferred alternative.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to build a nuclear test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory to study fuels and materials.

Besides INL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had been considered as a potential site for the Versatile Test Reactor. ORNL remains one of five national laboratories that are partners on the project. DOE said building the test reactor at INL was its preferred alternative.

At ORNL, the Versatile Test Reactor would have been at a relatively undeveloped site previously considered for other projects about a mile east of the ORNL main campus. It would have required a new hot cell and a facility for post-irradiation examination and the conditioning of spent nuclear fuel for disposal. It would also have used existing facilities at ORNL, including the Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory and the Irradiated Material Examination and Testing Facility.

DOE said building the Versatile Test Reactor at either INL or ORNL would have small environmental consequences, but overall, the consequences would be less at the INL site. Among the reasons: A smaller area would be temporarily disturbed and permanently occupied at INL because of the need to build a new hot cell facility at ORNL. Unlike the INL site, the ORNL location abuts wetlands that would have to be managed or avoided under the Clean Water Act and Tennessee regulations. The removal of trees at ORNL would result in the loss of roosting habitat for sensitive bat species. And although small at both locations, the potential radiological impacts would be lower at INL because the Versatile Test Reactor would be farther from the site boundary and population density is lower near INL than ORNL.

The rest of this story is available if you are a member: a subscriber, advertiser, or contributor to Oak Ridge Today.

Already a member? Great! Thank you! Sign in here.

Not a member? No problem! Subscribe here:

Basic

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Temporary

If you prefer to send a check, you may do so by mailing one to:

Oak Ridge Today
P.O. Box 6064
Oak Ridge, TN 37831

We also have advanced subscription options. You can see them here.

We also accept donations. You can donate here. A donation of $50 or more will make you eligible for a subscription.

Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today. We appreciate your support!

DOE bus tours restart in Oak Ridge

U.S. Department of Energy public bus tours have resumed in Oak Ridge after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo from DOE)

U.S. Department of Energy public bus tours have resumed in Oak Ridge after a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tours began running again on July 11, and they are scheduled to continue through November.

“The program is a longtime staple in the community, helping educate residents and visitors about the site’s rich history and current missions,” DOE said in an EM Update newsletter published Tuesday. (EM stands for environmental management.)

The tour program started in 1996 and has attracted tens of thousands of visitors from all 50 states, DOE said.

The three-and-a-half-hour tours allow visitors to see all three DOE sites on the Oak Ridge Reservation, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Y-12 National Security Complex, and East Tennessee Technology Park.

[Read more…]

Crews prepare former ORNL reactors for demolition

An aerial view of the central campus area at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management will be transforming in the months ahead. Demolition is scheduled to begin on Building 3010 (front right) this fall followed by Building 3005 (back right) later this year. Crews are also conducting cleanup projects in Building 3042 (left). (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management)

The U.S. Department of Energy and cleanup contractor UCOR are preparing to demolish research reactor facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Crews are nearing the final stages of deactivation inside two former research reactor facilities: the Bulk Shielding Reactor, known as Building 3010, and the Low Intensity Test Reactor, known as Building 3005, according to a newsletter published by DOE’s Office of Environmental Management. They are also beginning efforts at the Oak Ridge Research Reactor, known as Building 3042.

The work is overseen by DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM.

These structures are located in the heart of ORNL, and their demolition will eliminate risks, clear land for research missions, and enhance access to a component of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the department said.

[Read more…]

Zacharia retiring as ORNL director

Thomas Zacharia has served as laboratory director since July 2017. (Photo credit: Carlos Jones/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy)

Thomas Zacharia plans to retire as director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the end of 2022 after 35 years at the nation’s largest science and energy laboratory, a press release said.

Zacharia has served as laboratory director since July 2017, overseeing the lab’s extensive $2.5 billion research portfolio and staff of nearly 6, the press release said.

“An incredible leader, extraordinary collaborator, and powerhouse innovator, Thomas is leaving a profound impact on ORNL and the world,” said Randy Boyd, University of Tennessee system president and chairman of the UT-Battelle board of governors. UT-Battelle operates ORNL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

In his tenure as lab director, Zacharia spearheaded significant growth in ORNL’s staff and portfolio, established new research initiatives, and guided the lab through the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said.

Among milestones during Zacharia’s tenure as director, the press release said, the laboratory has:

[Read more…]

Workers devise strategies to clean up high-risk contaminated lab at ORNL

Workers lower detection equipment through an opening in the roof of the East Cell Bank at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to capture readings inside the facility. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management/UCOR)

Innovation has been required as federal cleanup crews work to deactivate and demolish the final portion of the former Radioisotope Development Laboratory at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The structure is known as the East Cell Bank, and it is on the U.S. Department of Energy’s list of high-risk excess contaminated facilities, said a press release from DOE Office of Environmental Management. The East Cell Bank is located in the heart of ORNL, near ongoing research missions.

Workers with cleanup contractor UCOR characterized the final cell to identify potential radiological and hazardous contamination, the press release said. They conducted the work in stages under a six-story protective structure erected to ensure nearby facilities and ongoing research missions at ORNL aren’t impacted by the cleanup.

The crews began by taking surveys and readings from an opening at the front of the structure, the release said. They used long-reach tools and a specialized radiation detector. The detector overlays a radiation-intensity color map on a picture of the environment and identifies gamma-ray emitting nuclides and their locations.

[Read more…]

Scientist-entrepreneur to talk about regenerative medicine, potential COVID treatment

Cymbeline “Bem” Culiat

A former molecular geneticist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will discuss regenerative medicine and a potential treatment for severe COVID-19 disease patients and those who struggle with “long haul” symptoms.

The talk by Cymbeline “Bem” Culiatco-founder, president, and chief science officer of NellOne Therapeutics in Knoxvillewill speak virtually to Friends of ORNL at noon Tuesday, February 8.

“While at ORNL, Culiat discovered the role of the NELL1 signaling protein in fostering the growth and maturation of musculoskeletal and cardiovascular tissues in mice and other mammals, including humans,” a press release said. “Her biotech company focuses on using her discovery to advance regenerative medicine, which involves replacing, engineering, or regenerating human or animal cells, tissues, or organs to promote healing and restore normal function. In contrast, traditional medicine typically provides treatment of symptoms rather than addressing root causes.”

To view the virtual lecture, click on the talk title on the homepage of the www.fornl.org website and click on the Zoom link near the top of the page describing the lecture. Here is Culiat’s summary of what she will talk about: [Read more…]

DOE makes upgrades to Molten Salt Reactor Experiment

An aerial view of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. The facility was shut down in 1973, and the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management is responsible for keeping it in a safe mode until its demolition is scheduled. (Photo courtesy DOE EM)

The U.S. Department of Energy is upgrading a historic reactor in Oak Ridge to keep the facility safe until it can be demolished.

The reactor, the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, is at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it was shut down nearly 50 years ago. At some point, the MSRE will be deactivated, and that will save about $5 million in annual operating costs, a press release said.

The work is being overseen by the DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management.

“We have the important responsibility of keeping it safe until major cleanup operations begin,” said Nathan Felosi, EM’s ORNL portfolio federal project director. “The latest round of projects is making sure that’s the case and achieving considerable cost savings to taxpayers.”

[Read more…]