DOE Fellow, Edgard Espinosa, Attends the Technology Innovation and International Partnership Workshop on DOE Used Nuclear Fuel & High Level Waste

The bilateral meeting, which is simply an agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) and the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (UKNDA) to share experiences on what has been learned, was held in Arlington, VA. Invited guests did not only consist of members from the US and UK used nuclear fuel community, but supporters from Canada and Australia were also present. DOE Fellow, Edgard Espinosa, attended the meeting, amplifying his insights following his internship with the EM-33 Office of Nuclear Materials Disposition during the summer of 2010.

The agenda consisted of regulators from all sides discussing their advances in the processing and storage of used nuclear fuel. Reports were provided by major sites of the U.S. DOE;, including Savannah River Site, Hanford Site, and Idaho National Lab.

Interestingly enough, the meeting included an update from Tim Frazier, the representative of the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC). Mr. Frazier provided an overview of the mission of the BRC. The BRC is contemplating on the big question, “Should the US stay at 20% or increase the 20% (production of electricity from nuclear energy)?” Answering this question is going to define the direction the BRC will pursue. A draft report with recommendations to Secretary Chu is scheduled to be provided on July 29, 2011. The final report will follow on January 29, 2012 (i.e., 6 months later).

Furthermore, Mrs. Joyce Connery, the Senior Advisor to Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman, spoke with supporting words on the nuclear renaissance. She referred to the Nuclear Security Summit held last April, where President Obama spoke of the four pillars, the 3rd having more involvement with agencies involved with used nuclear fuel. Mrs. Connery directed “Protecting the environment as essential to peace and prosperity”, the 3rd pillar, to members of the audience which included a sea of representatives from different sites. It has become a great concern to the presidential administration to secure all used nuclear material that could become a potential threat to global security. “Nuclear proliferation is bad for business” said Ms. Connery. Used nuclear fuel may cause harm if placed in the wrong hands.

September 21-22, 2010

DOE Fellow, Leydi Velez, Participates in CRESP Workshop on Risk Assessment and Safety Decision Making Under Uncertainty in Bethesda, MD

The U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with the Consortium for Risk Evaluation with Stakeholder Participation (CRESP) held its first annual workshop on risk assessment in Bethesda, MD on September 21 and 22, 2010. DOE Fellow, Leydi Velez, was invited to participate in this workshop based on her involvement in the development and coordination of the workshop as part of her internship at DOE-HQ, EM-20 this past summer 2010. The objectives of this workshop were to exchange information on the current approaches to safety assessments and decision making across a range of federal agencies, industries, and research, to identify best practices and to identify key knowledge, methodological gaps and research needs. This workshop was planned as a response to the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board’s (DNFSB’s) recommendation 2009-1, Risk Assessment Methodologies at Defense Nuclear Facilities. This recommendation identified the need for adequate policies and associated standards and guidance on the use of quantitative risk assessment methodologies at DOE’s defense nuclear facilities. Leydi had the opportunity to be a part of the implementation plan for this recommendation by helping to coordinate this workshop during her summer internship.

Representatives from the U.S. DOE, Sandia National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Agency among others, gave presentations and participated in panel sessions.