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Very dubious claims made by proponents of NuScam’s small nuclear reactor plans

Small Nuclear Reactors Would Provide [a dubious claim] Carbon-Free Energy, but Would They Be Safe? Inside Climate News, Jonathan Moens, -21 Oct 20 Regulators have approved designs for 12 small reactors to be built in Idaho, but opponents say the project is dangerous and too late to fight climate change.   “……… Last month, U.S. officials approved NuScale Power’s designs for 12 small nuclear reactors to be built in Boise, Idaho. The reactors could make use of the water, transmission lines and general infrastructure of former coal-powered plants in the West to produce clean energy, said Jose Reyes, co-founder of the company.

NuScale said the energy produced by its reactors would generate enough electricity to power about 50,000 homes across six Western states. The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, an energy cooperative, would be the first to build the reactors on a federal site at the Idaho National Laboratory.  

The NuScale Power initiative has met with opposition from local environmental groups, who say that nuclear power is a dangerous and unsustainable energy source.

In addition, the highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors must be securely stored indefinitely to prevent accidents, and contains plutonium and uranium that can be reprocessed into nuclear weapons. “We see this project as a way to create a whole new generation of high level radioactive waste,” said Scott Williams, executive director of Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, a nuclear watchdog. ……

The designs underwent a public health and safety review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. But some scientists think they still aren’t safe enough. In a public statement, Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety with the Union of Concerned Scientists, cited a report by a senior engineer at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expressing concern that the cooling process might inadvertently cause “catastrophic” core damage to the reactors.

Other scientists worry that NuScale may be getting ahead of itself by not having a planning protocol for a radioactive emergency that affects areas around the site.

“In the event of an accident, the people around there will not have rehearsed how to do an evacuation,” said M.V. Ramana, a professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.  …….

Too Late in a Climate Crisis?

The municipal power systems cooperative still needs to obtain a license to build and begin operating the reactors. To do so, the project will undergo an additional site-specific review to consider the potential ecological, geographic and residential impact the technology may have on the area, said George Griffith, lead technician at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The delay means that while NuScale will be ready to manufacture modular reactors by around 2024, it will take an additional five to six years for them to be operational at the Idaho site, said Reyes. 

Some experts, however, question whether 2029 is too late for the technology to be relevant in a time of climate crisis…….

Ramana, of the University of British Columbia, said, “While the overall capital cost [for small modular reactors] might be smaller, they also generate smaller amounts of electricity.” He outlined his concerns in a report released in September urging the Utah energy cooperative to “end their pursuit of small modular reactors.”

Ramana made clear that while devastating incidents associated with nuclear power plants might seem unlikely, we need to remain cautious. 

“The lesson we should learn from all the many nuclear and other accidents that have happened with hazardous technologies, is a little bit of humility,” he said.


October 22, 2020 - Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA

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