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Ahead of regulatory approval the US Dept of Energy wants Govt to grant $4 billion for Small Nuclear Reactors development

Bloomberg Business Week, 7 Feb 22,  –…………………………   Congress has ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to replace a rules framework that dates to the 1950s. The new guidelines aren’t expected until at least 2025………    To prove the safety of designs, for instance, the commission demands data from similar plants, but none of the smaller installations have been built in the U.S., so there’s no performance history.

………..   the U.S. Department of Energy has gotten ahead of the NRC. The department is asking Congress for as much as $4 billion over seven years for advanced reactor development.

Beneficiaries include TerraPower, a startup founded by Bill Gates that’s working on a project in Wyoming; X-energy, which is planning a high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor in Washington state; and Kairos Power, which aims to build a 35-megawatt salt-cooled test reactor in Tennessee and applied for a construction license last September.

……………  these plants face staunch opposition. Environmental groups say that small reactors—some have a capacity of only 1.5MW, about 0.1% the size of a traditional plant—still produce enough radioactive material to present a contamination risk. And building more plants, even small ones, will add to the pile of toxic waste that no one can figure out what do with. “To the extent that there will be efforts to weaken the regulatory envelope, we will aggressively push back,” says Geoff Fettus, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Globally, more than 70 small modular reactors, with a total capacity of about 12 gigawatts, have been proposed or are under development in at least five countries, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The only one that’s been built is a floating reactor in the Russian town of Pevek, on the Arctic Sea, where it’s used to power mining operations. Gregory Jaczko, who served as NRC chair from 2009 to 2012, says the lack of movement on such plants around the world suggests we would be wrong to count on them as a way out of the climate crisis. “They’re just not ready,” he says. “And by the time they could be ready, they’re not going to be useful.”

February 10, 2022 - Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA

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