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‘It’s time to pump the brakes on reintroduction of nuclear energy to Trawsfynydd’

By Patrick O’Brien  |   Columnist   |Sunday 16th April 2023

‘It’s time to pump the brakes on reintroduction of nuclear energy to
Trawsfynydd’. Giving SMRs a clean bill of health in advance of any
researched-based demonstration that such is justified is bad enough, but en
route there is a sweeping assertion about the utter desirability of all
nuclear power – past and present.

For any deniers of the proposition, this
is a meltdown moment. SMRs, which can generate up to 300 megawatts, or
about two-thirds less than traditional nuclear power reactors. They are
claimed to be safer because of increased use of smart innovative technology
and inherent safety features.

So how solid is the SMR safety case? The
jury’s out. In 2021, the intergovernmental Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)
established an expert group on SMRs “to handle safety challenges and
develop a solid scientific basis which supports safety demonstration of the
advanced and innovative technologies used for SMRs”.

But the NEA is clear
that much research on safety remains to be done. The Welsh Government,
meanwhile, is brimming over with enthusiasm, insisting its proposed project
will become essential for the diagnosis and treatment of a number of
diseases, and that its north Wales facility would be a global centre of
excellence in nuclear medicine, making Wales the leading location for
medical radioisotope production in the UK, leading to the creation of
highly skilled jobs over several decades.

But it’s time to slow down. The
NEA’s reticence on safety means it’s necessary for the government – and
Patrick Loxdale – to take a deep breath and, no doubt with difficulty,
reserve judgment.

Cambrian News 15th April 2023


April 17, 2023 - Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK

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