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Unanswered questions cloud the future of NuScam’s Small Modular Nuclear Reactor project

Questions Remain About ID Nuclear Reactor Project  https://www.upr.org/post/questions-remain-about-id-nuclear-reactor-project

By NORTHERN ROCKIES NEWS SERVICE  16 Nov 20,   Questions are being raised about the future of NuScale Power’s Idaho project to bring nuclear energy to cities in the Mountain West.

NuScale‘s small, modular reactor design is the first of its kind to be approved in the United States. The new, compact concept is made up of 12 small reactors and will be located at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Sarah Fields, program director with the group Uranium Watch, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission needs to scrutinize the project carefully. In particular, she said she’s concerned about a proposal for fewer people to oversee the project.

“They want to reduce the number of operators, and that’s just to save money,” said Fields. “And the NRC is undergoing a review of that.”.

NuScale said the project needs fewer operators because of its design is simpler and the controls involve more automation. The NRC is reviewing the proposal, which could involve policy changes since the approval process is based on conventional nuclear power plant designs.

The NRC has approved the Design Certification Application for the project in its current form. But Fields said the agency still has to authorize certain aspects of the design.

One NRC engineer has raised questions about dilution of boron water around reactor cores, which could cause a dangerous power surge even if the reactor is shut down. Fields said it could be hard to make modifications once aspects of the design are approved.

“It’s like designing a house,” said Fields. “And once you want to change one thing about the house, then you have to make all different kinds of adjustments. And then, get approvals from that.”

November 17, 2020 - Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA

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