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Another city leaves small nuclear reactor project – unanimous vote by Murray City Council, Utah

Murray City votes to withdraw from nuclear power project,  Salt Lake Tribune, By Taylor Stevens– 23 Oct 20,  The Murray City Council voted unanimously this week to back out of a first-of-its-kind nuclear power project that has the support of a number of Utah municipalities.

It’s the fourth Utah city to exit the small modular nuclear reactor pursuit over the last few months amid pressure from opponents who have raised concerns about environmental and financial risks of the proposed 12-module plant, which would be located at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls and produce a total 720 megawatts of electricity.

During the city’s Tuesday council meeting, Murray Power Manager Blaine Haacke outlined several advantages of the project, including the potential that it could fill the energy gap that will be left when the Hunter Power Plant in Castle Dale goes offline in the coming years.

But he ultimately recommended that the council vote to back out of the project, saying there were too many risks involved in committing another $1.1 million to $1.4 million in taxpayer dollars, with an ultimate anticipated price tag to city residents of around $2.1 million.
“I think there’s just enough stumbling blocks out there that I’m really concerned about,” Haacke told the council.
The project’s projected costs have ballooned significantly, from $4.5 billion a few years ago to around $6 billion now. And he said there’s a chance that leadership or priority changes on the national level could affect federal appropriations toward the nuclear reactor plant.
But Haacke told the council Tuesday that his biggest concern is that the plant is only 25% subscribed — and it’s not a sure thing that new customers will suddenly come on board once it’s built.,,,,,,,,,
Ahead of the vote, city staff also read several public comments from residents, all of which urged their elected officials to back out of the project over concerns about both cost and potential environmental impacts.
Rusty Cannon, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, was among those who sent in a written comment, arguing that the municipal power company should not act as a “seed investor” for the new technology.
That responsibility, he said, should lie with the private sector, and “municipal power companies could instead look to purchase power from such a project upon its completion” around 2029.
Environmental groups, such as the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah, have also raised concerns about the radioactive waste that would be generated by the project.
Despite the federal government’s support, the future of the project seems murkier now that Murray has joined Lehi, Logan and Kaysville in backing out of the project. And Haacke said he’s heard rumors that other cities are considering an exit as well ahead of a recently-extended deadline to “off-ramp” from the project.

He told the council that he expects UAMPS will carry the project forward without Murray. But he said the association’s members will meet during the first week of November to make a final decision, after they find out how many cities have exited.

“If there are enough [municipalities] that have dropped out, as a UAMPS committee we will say, ‘let’s just drop it and move on,’” he said. …………
The Utah cities that remain in the Carbon Free Power Project have until Oct. 31 to drop out or to appropriate additional funds to the small modular reactor project.  ….  https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/10/23/murray-city-votes/

October 24, 2020 - Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA

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