The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

First a comment on military smrs – then the enthusiastic article about them

spikedpsycho169, 18 Jan 21, Small reactors on a battlefield where the enemy now has suicide drones, rpg’s and homemade rockets. What could possibly go wrong.? Other than electricity, reactors have little use on a field of combat. Some advocate the production of liquid fuels using in situ resources like ammonia, methanol, etc made using ambient materials like air/water. That requires temperatures above 600-800 degrees celsius, Which no reactor currently operates.  
 Reactors for powering non-combat or heavily defended bases is one thing. Building one for a FOB or MASH is prohibitively expensive and should the base be overrun or abandoned, how do you take it with you. A running reactor would irradiate it’s environment EVERYwhere it went. the ml-1 reactor needed 1000 feet exclusion zone; and That’s why commercial plants have these..


White House Accelerates Development Of Mini Nuclear Reactors For Space And The Battlefield

The order looks to accelerate and integrate the development of highly mobile nuclear reactors for space and the terrestrial battlefield.   BY BRETT TINGLEY JANUARY 16, 2021

President Trump issued an Executive Order on January 12 that aims to promote small, modular nuclear reactors for defense and space exploration applications. According to a press statement issued by the White House, the order will “further revitalize the United States nuclear energy sector, reinvigorate America’s space exploration program, and produce diverse energy options for national defense needs.” 

The order instructs NASA’s administrator to prepare a report within 180 days that will define NASA’s requirements and foreseeable issues for developing a nuclear energy system for human and robotic exploratory missions through 2040. The order also calls for a “Common Technology Roadmap” between NASA and the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, and State for implementing new reactor technologies. The full text of the Executive Order can be read at ………

Section 4 of the Executive Order goes into further detail about the DoD’s energy needs, and outlines the role the Department of Defense will play in this new initiative to develop mobile nuclear reactors …….

The Executive Order also outlines a Common Technology Roadmap that “describes potential development programs and that coordinates, to the extent practicable, terrestrial-based advanced nuclear reactor and space-based nuclear power and propulsion efforts” between the Departments of Energy, Defense, Commerce, State, and NASA. This roadmap will also require “assessments of foreign nations’ space nuclear power and propulsion technological capabilities.” Naturally, one of the most pressing concerns with any nuclear technology is national security, and thus the order also instructs the DoD to work together with NASA and other agencies to identify security issues associated with any potential space-based nuclear systems.

With this new Executive Order, the White House seeks to propel the United States to the forefront of all of the work being conducted in compact reactor research. While the wording in the statement focuses more on space exploration, the Department of Defense’s involvement is highly important. Since space environments are similar in that resupply is a tricky, if not impossible, endeavor, NASA could help jump-start the DoD’s mobile nuclear program even further if both are really working on it collaboratively, although the requirements will be somewhat different. “There’s sometimes a risk of forcing too much commonality,” a White House official told “What this executive order does is ensure that there is a deliberate look at what those opportunities may be.”

If realized, the Executive Order’s accompanying statement reads, this initiative could lead to a “transportable small modular reactor for a mission other than naval propulsion for the first time in half a century.” 

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January 19, 2021 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

”Small Modular Reactors”’- governments are being sucked in by the ”billionaires’ nuclear club” 

SNC-Lavalin   Scandal-ridden SNC-Lavalin is playing a major role in the push for SMRs.

Terrestrial Energy…..  Terrestrial Energy’s advisory board includes Dr. Ernest Moniz, the former US Secretary of the Dept. of Energy (2013-2017) who provided more than $12 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear industry. Moniz has been a key advisor to the Biden-Harris transition team, which has come out in favour of SMRs.

The “billionaires’ nuclear club”  …“As long as Bill Gates is wasting his own money or that of other billionaires, it is not so much of an issue. The problem is that he is lobbying hard for government investment.”

Going after the public purse

Bill Gates was apparently very busy during the 2015 Paris climate talks. He also went on stage during the talks to announce a collaboration among 24 countries and the EU on something called Mission Innovation – an attempt to “accelerate global clean energy innovation” and “increase government support” for the technologies.

Gates’ PR tactic is effective: provide a bit of capital to create an SMR “bandwagon,” with governments fearing their economies would be left behind unless they massively fund such innovations.

governments “are being suckers. Because if Wall Street and the banks will not finance this, why should it be the role of the government to engage in venture capitalism of this kind?”

It will take a Herculean effort from the public to defeat this NICE Future, but along with the Assembly of First Nations, three political parties – the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party – have now come out against SMRs.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, investigative journalism, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Big doubts on small nuclear reactors – on economics, on waste problems

Former U.S. regulator questions small nuclear reactor technology,   Business case for small reactors ‘doesn’t fly,’ says expert on nuclear waste, Jacques Poitras · CBC News Jan 15, 2021   A former head of the United States’ nuclear regulator is raising questions about the molten-salt technology that would be used in one model of proposed New Brunswick-made nuclear reactors.

The technology pitched by Saint John’s Moltex Energy is key to its business case because, the company argues, it would reuse some of the nuclear waste from Point Lepreau and lower the long-term cost and radioactivity of storing the remainder.

But Allison Macfarlane, the former chairperson of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a specialist in the storage of nuclear waste, said no one has yet proven that it’s possible or viable to reprocess nuclear waste and lower the cost and risks of storage.

“Nobody knows what the numbers are, and anybody who gives you numbers is selling you a bridge to nowhere because they don’t know,” said Macfarlane, now the director of the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia.

“Nobody’s really doing this right now. … Nobody has ever set up a molten salt reactor and used it to produce electricity.”

Macfarlane said she couldn’t comment specifically on Moltex, calling information about the company’s technology “very vague.”

But she said the general selling point for molten-salt technology is dubious.

“Nobody’s been able to answer my questions yet on what all these wastes are and how much of them there are, and how heat-producing they are and what their compositions are,” she said.

“My sense is that all of these reactor folks have not really paid a lot of attention to the back end of these fuel cycles,” she said, referring to the long-term risks and costs of securely storing nuclear waste.

Moltex is one of two Saint John-based companies pitching small nuclear reactors as the next step for nuclear power in the province and as a non-carbon-dioxide emitting alternative to fossil fuel electricity generation.

Moltex North America CEO Rory O’Sullivan said the company’s technology will allow it to affordably extract the most radioactive parts of the existing nuclear waste from the Point Lepreau Generating Station.

The waste is now stored in pellet form in silos near the plant and is inspected regularly.

The process would remove less than one per cent of the material to fuel the Moltex reactor and O’Sullivan said that would make the remainder less radioactive for a much shorter amount of time.

Existing plans for nuclear waste in Canada are to store it in an eventual permanent repository deep underground, where it would be secure for the hundreds of thousands of years it remained radioactive………..

Shorter-term radioactivity complicates storage

Macfarlane said a shorter-term radioactivity life for waste would actually complicate its storage underground because it might lead to a facility that has to be funded and secured rather than sealed up and abandoned.

“That means that you believe that the institutions that exist to keep monitoring that … will exist for hundreds of years, and I think that is a ridiculous assumption,” she said.

“I’m looking at the United States, I’m seeing institutions crumbling in a matter of a few years. I have no faith that institutions can last that long and that there will be streams of money to maintain the safety and security of these facilities. That’s why you will need a deep geologic repository for this material.”

And she said that’s assuming the technology will successfully extract all of the most radioactive material.

“They are assuming that they remove one hundred per cent of the difficult, radionuclides, the difficult isotopes, that complicate the waste,” she said.

“My response is: prove it. Because if you leave five per cent, you have high-level waste that you’re going to be dealing with. If you leave one per cent, you’re going to have high-level waste that you’re going to be dealing with. So sorry, that one doesn’t fly with me.”

Macfarlane, a geologist by training, raised doubts about molten-salt technology and waste issues in a 2018 paper she co-authored for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists……….

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, wastes | Leave a comment

Small modular reactor plan bolsters nuclear industry’s future, but renewables could address energy issues now,

Small modular reactor plan bolsters nuclear industry’s future, but renewables could address energy issues now,

While SMRs are hailed as start of a nuclear renaissance, there are big questions about costs and timeframe,  Eva Schacherl ·  CBC News   Jan 15  In late December, as many Canadians were easing into a low-key holiday break, Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan pulled out a bag of goodies for the nuclear industry. It was the much-hyped Small Modular Reactor Action Plan for Canada.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) are experimental nuclear technologies that are still on the drawing board. They are the nuclear power industry’s hope for overcoming the problems that have plagued it: high costs, radioactive waste, and risks of accidents.

Public interest groups across the country, however, argue that SMRs won’t solve these issues.

The dozen SMR vendors backing the technology include GE-Hitachi, Westinghouse, and SNC-Lavalin (which, along with two U.S. corporations, already holds a multibillion-dollar contract with the federal government to run Canadian Nuclear Laboratories at Chalk River, Ont.). O’Regan’s plan did nothing to clarify the price tag of a nuclear renaissance, but it says the federal government expects to share the cost and risks of SMR projects with the private sector.

Proponents say that SMRs will cost less than conventional nuclear and be flexible enough to serve remote communities reliant on costly and polluting diesel. O’Regan has also said that SMRs are necessary to fight climate change: in short, a utopia of “clean, affordable, safe and reliable power,” as he told a nuclear conference last year.

But is this any more than a dream? The enthusiasm for SMRs sometimes sounds like a New Age cult — let’s examine the claims.

First, must we have a new generation of nuclear reactors to get to the promised land of net-zero emissions?

Many studies show a path to net-zero without nuclear energy. Energy scientists who modelled a 100 per cent renewable energy system for North America, for example, concluded that nuclear energy “cannot play an important role in the future” because of its high cost and safety issues. Closer to home, it has been shown how Ontario can meet its electricity demand without nuclear, using renewables, hydro and storage.

Meanwhile, a new study in Nature Energy uses data from 123 nations to show that countries focused on renewables do much better at reducing emissions.

Indeed, some fear that the federal government’s faith in nuclear reactors will delay Canada’s transition to clean energy. SMRs will take decades to develop and deploy, yet it’s projected that we have as little as 10 years left to stop irreversible damage from climate change.

Can SMRs one day be cost-competitive with renewable energy?

Right now, the cost difference between nuclear power and other low-carbon alternatives is growing because renewables and energy storage keep getting cheaper.

Meanwhile, the estimated cost of the most advanced SMR project, in Idaho, has increased from $4.2 billion to $6.1 billion before shovels are even in the ground. That’s nearly $12,000 per kilowatt of generation capacity.

The Canada Energy Regulator says wind and solar projects in Canada cost $1,600 to $1,800 per kilowatt to build in 2017 – and that their costs are expected to go down steeply.

an small reactors wean off-grid communities and mines from diesel fuel?

Perhaps some day. But if the government has a few hundred million dollars to spare for SMR projects, they should spend it now to speed up renewable energy adoption in those locations instead. Studies show that renewables would offer power as much as 10 times cheaper, using technologies that are ready to go now rather than ones still on the drawing board.

Finally, nuclear energy is neither green nor clean. All reactors produce radioactive waste that will need to be kept out of the biosphere for hundreds of thousands of years.

The proposal that some SMR models would reuse highly radioactive CANDU fuel and plutonium will only create worse problems in the form of radioactive wastes that are even more dangerous to manage.

For a livable future, Canada has pledged to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. Will we get a bigger bang for our buck from reactors that are still just design concepts? Or by retrofitting buildings, improving energy efficiency, and building solar, wind, geothermal and tidal power with existing technology?

Clearly, the latter. And it needs to be done now.

January 16, 2021 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

As pandemic cripples America, Donald Trump orders funding for military Small Nuclear Reactors in space

January 14, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, space travel, USA | 1 Comment

Most Maldon District Councillors oppose Bradwell big nuclear development: small reactors would carry the same dangers.

Maldon Standard 7th Jan 2021, A CAMPAIGN group is calling for a council to make up its mind about a proposed nuclear power plant. Last month, Maldon District Council voted in
favour of a recommendation to send a letter in support of the development of small modular reactors at the site of Bradwell B power station. The letter was sent to MP John Whittingdale and to the head of nuclear development at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in support of the development.
Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) said “We find this suggestion flies entirely in the face of recent pronouncements from the Council.” Previously the council reviewed its
position to back Bradwell B due to the environmental and ecological impacts it would have.
Now BANNG says Maldon District Council “can’t have it both ways”. Spokesman Varrie Blowers said: “BANNG has always maintained that the main problem with any new nuclear development at Bradwell was the unsuitability of the site itself. “It was clear during the recent debates
on the plans for Bradwell B that a strong majority of councillors agreed with BANNG that Bradwell is an unsuitable, unacceptable and unsustainable site for nuclear development.
“It is this message that needs to be made clear so that the site is removed from the Government’s list of potentially suitable sites. “Small modular reactors would create the same
environmental, heritage and ecological problems as those opposed by Maldon
District Council in relation to Bradwell B.”

January 9, 2021 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

In Indonesia – small nuclear reactors as a prelude to nuclear weapons?

Indonesia’s Nuclear Dream, Revived?  Does the Joko Widodo government have nuclear aspirations? The Diplomat, By Sung-Mi Kim, December 31, 2020   Is Indonesia looking to go nuclear under the Joko Widodo government? In February 2020, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister of maritime affairs and former chief of staff to President Widodo, publicly complained that powerful countries like the United States do not consider Indonesia a serious international player because of its lack of nuclear weapons, seizing some local news headlines. The political heavyweight, a retired four-star army general, is behind a recent bout of interest in cutting-edge nuclear reactor technologies to capitalize on the country’s abundant mineral resources. …..
………the Defense Ministry signed an agreement with U.S.-based nuclear company ThorCon International in July 2020 to collaborate on the research and development of a small thorium molten salt reactor. Initially, ThorCon had made an ambitious proposal in March 2019 to invest $1.2 billion to develop a larger, 500 megawatt floating nuclear power plant in Indonesia by 2027. To this end, ThorCon has been engaging with key state-owned enterprises such as shipbuilder PT PAL Indonesia, electricity provider PT PLN, and tin miner PT Timah through a series of MOUs and high-level engagements.  ………

January 2, 2021 Posted by | Indonesia, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Small modular reactor plan – a dangerous distraction from climate change action

Feds’ Small Modular Reactor Action Plan is a dangerous distraction from climate change mitigation, Corporate Knights BY RICK CHEESEMAN, December 29, 2020

Attractive rhetoric around SMR’s does not equate to viability upon close examination   In December 18, the Government of Canada launched its Small Modular Reactor Action Plan, ramping up its support for a new generation of nuclear reactors that will be smaller than the existing fleet, and designed for assembly-line production.

Canada can be a world leader in this promising, innovative, zero-emissions energy technology, and this is our plan to position ourselves in an emerging global market,” Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement.

The governments of New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, together with the federal government, advocate that small modular reactors (SMRs) are essential if Canada is to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. According to the feds’ 2018 Call to Action report on the mini nuclear reactors, “SMRs are a reliable, clean, non-emitting source of energy, with costs that are predictable and competitive with other alternatives.”

The first problem with these claims is that SMRs don’t yet exist and aren’t expected to exist for a decade, making these claims dubious. It’s not the only questionable claim made by proponents.

Are SMRs a clean, zero-emission source of power? 

Nuclear reactors emit much lower concentrations of carbon than fossil fuels, so one could claim they are zero-emission. But they have their own, uniquely harmful, emissions. From thousands of tonnes of spent fuel to hundreds of thousands of tonnes of mine tailings, nuclear power leaves a radioactive trail that is an immediate threat to waterways and water tables and is lethal for hundreds of thousands of years. SMRs will only add to that.

In 2010, Ad Standards Canada ruled that an ad claiming CANDU reactors were emission-free was “inaccurate and unsupported.” The Power Workers’ Union was expected to remove all ads containing the “emission-free” statement and to qualify any future claims. ……

After 70 years, the nuclear industry still hasn’t found a way to keep habitable environments safe from spent fuel for anything close to the time frames required for it to be harmless. There have been many plans in the past and there are current plans but all have one thing in common: they are unfit for purpose.

Some SMR technologies promise to use CANDU spent fuel in the SMR, claiming this will reduce both the radioactivity and quantity of the spent fuel. This claim is theoretical, based on proprietary data, and a report published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said doing so would be “playing with fire,” noting that the process, called pyroprocessing, will exacerbate the spent fuel storage and disposal challenges, not mitigate them.

Will SMRs be safe?

………. SMRs will require fuel that has been “enriched,” increasing the concentration of plutonium. Since plutonium is the “active ingredient” in nuclear weapons, the potential for nuclear proliferation increases, and SMR fuel production and transportation will require increased security. Concerns over safety are not limited to the actual fuel and its reactions. Many of the SMR designs being considered in Canada have a much higher operating temperature than existing reactors, and some have a much more corrosive environment. The materials required to house the reaction, the reactor itself, do not exist yet and their development is in its infancy.
Will SMRs be a cost-effective source of power?
Projects for constructing and refurbishing nuclear power stations have a solid track record for coming in years behind schedule and billions over budget. It appears that SMRs are following the same trajectory: NuScale Power, an SMR development firm based in Portland, Oregon, may be the closest to having a functioning, approved SMR. To date, the U.S. government has invested $1.6 billion. In 2015, the estimated total development cost was $3 billion; today it is $6.1 billion. In 2008, NuScale predicted that its SMR would be online in 2016; today, it predicts that it will be 2029.
Nonetheless, SMR proponents have suggested that the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for SMRs will be on par with renewables. However, there is a plethora of independent, peer-reviewed papers that indicate much higher costs, including a recent Canadian report that concludes the LCOE of an SMR could be 10 times the cost of wind, solar or diesel. With the costs of renewable energy quickly plummeting, and given the rapid evolution of renewable generation and storage technologies, it’s unlikely SMRs will be competitive.

A range of power-generation and storage technologies that are clean, emissions-free, safe and low cost, is imminent. Within 10 years, these technologies will be widespread, fully incorporated into all levels of society, and deployed to all regions – all before the first SMR comes online. In all likelihood, by the time an SMR comes to market, there will be a more economical and environmentally responsible alternative in place.

While the rhetoric is persuasive, the case for SMRs doesn’t stand up to objective scrutiny. Allocating climate-change funds to them is a travesty.


December 31, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | 2 Comments

Small Nuclear Reactors – the Big New Way – to get the public to fund the nuclear weapons industry

so-called “small nuclear reactors”

Downing Street told the Financial Times, which it faithfully reported, that it was “considering” £2 billion of taxpayers’ money to support “small nuclear reactors”

They are not small

The first thing to know about these beasts is that they are not small. 440MW? The plant at Wylfa (Anglesey, north Wales) was 460MW (it’s closed now). 440MW is bigger than all the Magnox type reactors except Wylfa and comparable to an Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor.

Only if military needs are driving this decision is it explicable.

”Clearly, the military need to maintain both reactor construction and operation skills and access to fissile materials will remain. I can well see the temptation for Defence Ministers to try to transfer this cost to civilian budgets,” 

Any nation’s defence budget in this day and age cannot afford a new generation of nuclear weapons. So it needs to pass the costs onto the energy sector.

How the UK’s secret defence policy is driving energy policy – with the public kept in the dark  BY DAVID THORPE / 13 OCTOBER 2020

 The UK government has for 15 years persistently backed the need for new nuclear power. Given its many problems, most informed observers can’t understand why. The answer lies in its commitment to being a nuclear military force. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NuScale’s nuclear reactor looks suspiciously like an old design, (that melted down)

Why Does NuScale SMR Look Like a 1964 Drawing of Swiss Lucens Nuclear Reactor (which suffered a major meltdown in 1969)?
Whatever NuScale is, or is not, it clearly isn’t “new”. The Bible must have foreseen the nuclear industry when it said that there was no new thing under the sun. While there might be something new about it, certainly its scale is not. And, it seems mostly a remake of old military reactors, perhaps with influence from swimming pool reactors.

The main ancestor seems to be the US Army’s SM-1, made by the American Locomotive Company, making its most distant ancestor the steam locomotive.

Government subsidizes for NuScale are a deadly taxpayer rip rip-off. Even without an accident, nuclear reactors legally leak deadly radionuclides into the environment during the entire nuclear fuel chain, as well as when they are operating. Then, the nuclear waste is also allowed to leak for perpetuity.

The 1964 Lucens Design certainly looks like the one unit NuScale. Did MSLWR, now NuScale, take from Lucens or from an earlier common design ancestor?

NuScale 12 years ago when it was called MASLWR and still an official government project, 2003, INEEL/EXT-04-01626.

This is for single reactors. They want to clump them together.

Is there a common ancestor in either the US nuclear power station in Greenland or Antarctica? Actually, the main “parent” for the underground concept, according to the Swiss documentation, is underground hydroelectric power stations, dating from the 1800s. These caverns have been known to collapse, which, along with the WIPP collapse, points to another risk associated with underground nuclear reactors, besides leakage and corrosion.
being mostly in an underground cavern proved to be a liability rather than an asset for Lucens. The cavern leaked water and contributed to corrosion issues that ultimately led to nuclear meltdown.

Despite its tiny size, tinier than NuScale, it still is classified as a major nuclear accident. Furthermore, the cavern did not keep the nuclear fallout from escaping into the environment. There was 1 Sv (1000 mSv) per hour of
radiation in the cavern. Radiation was measured in the nearby village, and the cavern still leaks radiation. Continue reading

December 29, 2020 Posted by | Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Russia marketing small nuclear reactors to the Arctic , (who cares about the toxic wastes?)

Rosatom to build small-scale land-based Arctic nuclear plant by 2028

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said Thursday that it has reached another milestone in its plans to build a small-scale land-based nuclear plant near the community of Ust-Kuyga in the eastern Russian Arctic. Barents Observer, Radio Canada International 
December 25, 2020, By Levon Sevunts 

Rosatom said it has reached an agreement with the government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) setting out parameters for pricing energy that will be produced by the nuclear plant, which is expected to be completed by 2028……….

“I am convinced that a small-scale nuclear power plant will give a qualitative impetus to the development of the Arctic regions of Yakutia, stimulate the development of industry in Ust-Yansky ulus and improve the living standards of local residents,” said in a statement Head of the Sakha Republic Aysen Nikolayev.

The nuclear plant is expected to operate for 60 years but the press release did not specify how Rosatom plans to deal with the nuclear waste produced by it.

Rosatom officials said the small-scale nuclear plant is based on a proven technology that has already been tested in Arctic conditions.

RITM-200 reactors are already being used on the recently commissioned Arktika nuclear-powered icebreaker and six other 22220 design heavy Russian icebreakers that are being built, Rosatom officials said…….

“The implementation of this project strengthens the leading position of Rosatom in the world market of small nuclear power plants.”…….

Rosatom is also actively marketing the technology for export overseas, Likhachev said.

December 26, 2020 Posted by | ARCTIC, marketing, Russia, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

U.S. Dept of Energy pouring $millions into new nuclear gimmicks

DOE selects advanced reactor concepts for funding, 23 December 2020

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced USD20 million in awards for the third of three programmes under its new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy has selected three teams to receive FY2020 funding for the ARDP’s Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20) programme.

DOE expects to invest about USD600 million over the next seven years in ARDP, which aims to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the USA.

The department issued an ARDP funding opportunity announcement in May this year, which included the ARC-20 awards, the Advanced Reactor Demonstration awards, and the Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration awards. For the ARC-20 projects, DOE expects to invest a total of about USD56 million over four years with its industry partners providing at least 20% in matching funds. The goal of the ARC-20 programme is to assist the progression of advanced reactor designs in their earliest phases.

DOE yesterday announced the selection of three US-based teams to receive ARC-20 funding. These are:

  • Inherently Safe Advanced SMR for American Nuclear Leadership. Advanced Reactor Concepts will deliver a conceptual design of a seismically isolated advanced sodium-cooled reactor facility that builds upon the initial pre-conceptual design of a 100 MWe reactor facility. The total award value over three-and-a-half years is USD34.4 million, with the DOE’s share being USD27.5 million.
  • Fast Modular Reactor Conceptual Design. General Atomics will develop a fast modular reactor conceptual design with verifications of key metrics in fuel, safety and operational performance. The design will be for a 50 MWe fast modular reactor. Total award value over three years is USD31.1 million (DOE share is USD24.8 million).
  • Horizontal Compact High Temperature Gas Reactor. Massachusetts Institute of Technology will mature the Modular Integrated Gas-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (MIGHTR) concept from a pre-conceptual stage to a conceptual stage to support commercialisation. The total award value over three years is USD4.9 million (DOE cost share is USD3.9 million)………..

On 16 December, DOE selected five teams to receive USD30 million in initial funding for risk reduction projects under its ARDP programme. All five of the selected designs have the potential to compete globally once deployed, DOE said. The five projects are: the BWXT Advanced Nuclear Reactor; Westinghouse’s eVinci Microreactor; Kairos Power’s Hermes Reduced-Scale Test Reactor; the Holtec SMR-160 light-water small modular reactor; and the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment, a project led by Southern Company Services Inc.

Two projects led by TerraPower and X-energy were selected in October to receive USD160 million in initial funding for under the DOE’s Demonstration projects pathway to develop and construct two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years……

December 26, 2020 Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Biden flirts with the fantasy of small nuclear reactors as the cure for climate change

if the nuclear revolution doesn’t happen in the next four years, it’s probably not going to happen

The Green Fantasy and Messy Reality of Nuclear Power. TNR, 23 Dec 20, Biden is flirting with the idea of rejuvenating the industry to help decarbonize the economy—and there are skeptics in spades.   Joe Biden will have to do more about climate change than any president before him. He has no choice. Already, close U.S. allies are openly expressing their relief about the end of the ecologically disastrous Trump era while a coalition of left-wing politicians and organizations are demanding sweeping emissions reductions.

Biden’s campaign climate promises were extensive. But one of the more interesting promises in the plan—and one of the ones key to determining how he approaches emissions reduction—was his promise to “identify the future of nuclear energy.” That means reopening discussion of a technology many environmentalists once thought would be rotting in the dustbin of history by now.

………… The France-based World Nuclear Industry Status Report for 2020 describes an industry largely in stagnation around the world. In the U.S. in particular, the nuclear picture is “centered around the relentless efforts of the industry and their supporters to gain financial assistance for lifetime extensions of their ageing reactor fleet,” the report says. Nuclear energy companies are “increasingly struggling in a competitive electricity market with low prices, flat consumption (at best) and ferocious rivals in the renewable energy sector.” 

Part of the reason nuclear energy construction remains difficult and expensive in the U.S. is that in polls Americans are split down the middle on their approval of nuclear energy, and opponents make a big stink when construction of a nuclear plant is being discussed. These are rational worries, according to Mark Delucchi, a research scientist affiliated with UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which operates on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition to the risk of meltdowns—which are, admittedly, rare—we have to also consider the disposal of caches of spent nuclear fuel, the risks of which “are potentially much more abroad in time and space,” Delucchi said. “They affect people. They affect other ecosystems. They affect different generations. And they’re unknown.”

It kinda boggles my mind how anyone who has any clue about solving problems related to climate or energy still considers nuclear power,” said Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and a frequent collaborator with Delucchi. As Jacobson pointed out, there’s next to no active construction of nuclear power plants currently going on in the U.S. All of the U.S. nuclear energy construction happening right now consists of two reactors in Georgia that Jacobson says “may never even be finished.” 

 A project in Utah set to break ground soon was set in motion by politicians accused of conflicts of interest, and construction of that plant has faced opposition from activists since its inception. In 2017, two U.S. nuclear reactor projects were canceled after construction had begun, leaving investors on the hook for billions of dollars. “So people are trying to say that we should build lots of these things that you can’t even build one of?” Jacobson said.

Despite the near impossibility of constructing one of these plants, greater federal investment in nuclear energy appears to be on the table. Biden’s transition team includes Rachel Slaybaugh, a Berkeley nuclear engineer. The Senate Committee on Energy and Public Works earlier this month approved a bipartisan bill aimed at protecting existing nuclear infrastructure, developing new nuclear technology, and supporting uranium mining.

America’s pro-nuclear voices tend to hail from the aggressively moderate part of the political spectrum. The centrist think tank Third Way says on its website that “advanced nuclear is shaping up to be a key component in our race to zero emissions.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy conceded in February that climate change is real—a step not all Republicans have taken—but claimed that the Democrats are going about trying to fix it all wrong. We should be, McCarthy wrote on his website, “investing in clean energy technology that will lead to less emissions, lower costs, and produce as much or more power. Chief among them is advanced nuclear technology.”


Rather predictably for anyone who follows this issue, McCarthy’s statement about clean energy (which doesn’t mention wind or solar) includes several citations of rockstar nuclear activist Michael Shellenberger, a guy who doesn’t think climate change is that bad and who has given not one, but two blockbuster TED talks attempting to bodyslam wind and solar, one of which is bluntly named “Why renewables can’t save the planet.” Over 2 million people have watched it on YouTube alone.

The notion that nuclear power is necessary and inevitable is far from a fringe viewpoint. Last year, The New York Times ran an op-ed called “Nuclear Power Can Save the World,” written by three Ph.D.-holders, including cognitive neuroscientist and radical optimist Steven Pinker.

According to this brand of eco-contrarianism, nuclear is not just viable, but the only pragmatic plan for decarbonizing the U.S. energy grid. Built into this message is invariably the idea that plans outlined by environmentalists, activists, and alternative energy proponents are actually doing more harm than good. It’s not that these folks want nuclear to have a seat at the table as humanity negotiates its energy future; they want to nuke-pill the whole climate movement.

But inevitably, this rhetoric has to address the chief problem of nuclear power, which is that it is extremely time-consuming and expensive to build new reactors. The solution, nuclear supporters argue, is to take a modular approach to our nuclear construction. Modularity means minimal variation at each new site, a streamlined design process, and less of the sort of worksite entropy that slows things down. In other words, cookie-cutter them into the energy landscape as quickly as possible.

There’s reason to be skeptical of this approach. “Claims about the technical and economic attractiveness of modular or small scale nuclear reactors, I think, are potentially especially problematic on the political side of things,” Delucchi said. “A lot of the costs associated with nuclear power are based on technologies that are not commercialized, or even particularly close.”

Plans based on 100 percent renewable energy are routinely criticized for relying on technology not yet available or cost-effective. Clearly, though, that’s also true for nuclear power. Nuclear fans, then, are asking the country to bet on a successful nuclear expansion at a time when we have less than ten years—roughly the time it takes to carry out the relatively smooth construction of a single nuclear power plant—to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 40–50 percent from 2010, or else we’ll blow past the ugly 1.5 degree warming threshold, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and plunge ourselves into climate chaos. That’s quite a bet.

In practical terms, all Biden has promised to do with regard to nuclear energy is form a research agency, dubbed ARPA-C, and churn out some government reports about it and other energy possibilities. And it won’t be at all surprising if, like Trump, Biden also gives a little boost to uranium mining companies that are desperate to expand their operations.

If ARPA-C’s research into modular reactors produces breakthroughs, more uranium gets mined, regulations fall away, public outcry dies down, and nuclear really turns out to be the answer to climate change, that should become clear by the end of Biden’s first term. If the U.S. is going to come anywhere close to meeting the IPCC’s recommendations for avoiding catastrophic warming through nuclear power, modular nuclear plants will be going up all over the place by January of 2025. We should see ribbons being cut, foundations being poured, and uranium ore well on its way to being enriched. “Small-scale modular” will have to become one of those eye-rollingly overused cliches, like “OK Boomer” or “social distancing.”

None of this seems particularly likely. And if the nuclear revolution doesn’t happen in the next four years, it’s probably not going to happen, given the slow pace of nuclear power construction. All those pragmatic arguments for nuclear energy will probably end up looking as fantastical as a three-eyed fish.

December 24, 2020 Posted by | climate change, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Small Nuclear Reactor unicorns for Canada

Canada’s SMR ‘Action Plan’ banks on private sector nuclear pipe dreams, Burgess Langshaw-Power / December 21, 2020  For many kids who grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, Star Trek was a big part of our childhoods. The series is filled with strange new worlds, futurist politics, and advanced technology that is almost indistinguishable from magic. Yet even as a child I knew the show was a work of science fiction. Warp speed, transporters and phasers were all gadgets I could comprehend, but in my rational mind I knew they would never exist within my lifetime.

Unfortunately, recent announcements by Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan—a self-professed fan of science fiction—demonstrate that the government has yet to arrive at the same conclusion I did as a kid watching Star Trek.

On December 18, the Trudeau government launched Canada’s Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Action Plan, to great fanfare. This new action plan builds on the 2018 SMR Roadmap, which made the promise that, “SMRs are a re-scaling and repurposing of nuclear technology for wider markets. They represent a paradigm shift for nuclear reactor technology—analogous to the shift of steam engines from mineshafts into ships and vehicles, or the movement of computers from mainframe to desktop and then to laptop.”

This idea of a paradigm shift channels Star Trek-level aspirations, yet the new Action Plan is significantly more hesitant: “Small modular reactors (SMRs) could be a source of clean, safe and affordable energy, opening opportunities for a resilient, low-carbon future and capturing benefits for Canada and Canadians while supporting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples as essential enabling partners.”

In just two years, from the launch of the Roadmap to the announcement of the Action Plan, the government has gone from a paradigm shift to the possibility that SMRs could be a source of clean energy. It’s as though there is something else about SMRs that the government doesn’t want us to consider in more depth.

Before we go any further, what are SMRs, anyway? Well, it turns out that’s a very good question. In fact, the Globe and Mail notes that “SMR lacks a universally agreed definition, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regards it as a marketing rather than a technical term.” In other words, SMRs are a group of many different technologies, none of which have actually been proven or tested, with only one project proposed and no timeframe for its realization. None of the technologies currently under consideration have solved any major issues with nuclear energy, including the problem of high-level radioactive waste management, however some are less likely to have meltdown-like events and cannot produce isotopes for creating weapons.  

The Statement of Principles section of the Action Plan notes that, “Markets around the globe are signalling a need for smaller, simpler, and cheaper nuclear energy.” However, there is simply no evidence to support this claim. In fact, the polar opposite is true, with many major governments and large corporations exiting the nuclear sector entirely. Meanwhile, German experts have stated that, “SMRs are always going to be more expensive than bigger reactors due to lower power output at constant fixed costs, as safety measures and staffing requirements do not vary greatly compared to conventional reactors.”

The British press is even more blunt about the prospects of a more ‘tactile’ nuclear future: “There is no commercial case for giant new reactors in any developed country. They cannot meet post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima safety demands at viable cost and have been priced out of the global energy market. Precipitous falls in renewable costs over the last five years have rendered the technology effectively obsolete in the West.”

This doesn’t sound like a bold future to me………..

The theory is that SMRs will be cheaper and safer than conventional nuclear reactors. Again, German experts disagree on the cost front. In terms of levelized energy costs, says Nicolas Wendler of industry association Nuclear Technology Germany (KernD), SMRs will always be more expensive than big plants. Moreover, he says, “nuclear power plant owners have repeatedly rejected the idea that the nuclear exit be reversed, arguing the technology is no longer economically viable anyway.”

In the United States, some nuclear plants are being decommissioned early, while other projects are being cancelled at a huge financial loss. Why? They aren’t competitive. This does not even account for the fact that we have yet to successfully build even a single SMR. Yet, if we were to, how much would they cost? The record for delays and cost overruns in Canada is not positive, and nuclear facilities have an unusually poor record in this regard. After 1970, the average nuclear facility saw cost overruns exceed 241 percent (not including the added burden of construction delays).

This does not even begin to address the costs and hazards associated with cleaning up nuclear sites, such as expensive remediation projects now underway in the US and the UK. Perhaps unsurprisingly, these failures and cost overruns sound a lot like the last major federal investment in the energy sector—the Trans Mountain pipeline fiasco.

There is no doubt Canada will need new energy sources for our clean energy transition to address the climate crisis. The Government of Canada claims, “At the same time, international experts are telling us that new nuclear energy, together with the full range of low-carbon technologies, are needed to combat global climate change and meet federal, provincial and territorial emissions targets for 2030 and 2050.”

However, international examples do not inspire confidence that nuclear needs to be a part of this solution. Germany is close to achieving half its energy supply from renewables excluding nuclear. In the UK, some estimates show that not including nuclear energy in the mix will save hundreds of millions of pounds and that the only justification for pursuing nuclear energy in the UK or France is to support a nuclear military strategy (which Canada obviously does not have).

At least the UK is putting its money where its mouth is, with over half a billion pounds invested into nuclear, while Canada’s new SMR Action plan includes precisely $0 of investment, as opposed to our new federal hydrogen strategy, which received $1.5 billion.

Why would we choose nuclear over other cheaper and readily available renewable technologies? It is true that there are still major flaws with renewables, but given that most SMRs are a decade away (at least), and the cost of solar has already dropped 89 percent in the last decade, it seems unlikely that SMRs—whenever they are ready—will be competitive.

One of the theoretical selling points is the deployment of SMRs in rural and remote communities to replace diesel. Yet, many Indigenous and northern communities have expressed trepidation towards SMRs dotting their territory, and are building solar arrays instead. Another argument is that SMRs could be used for industrial facilities such as those in the mining sector, or the Alberta oil sands (this was a terrible idea in the past, and its terrible idea now). However, others suggest that SMRs are only capable of, “ticking off the Financial and Consumer Services Commission’s checklist on how to spot a scam.”

Canada’s SMR Action Plan is nothing more than science fiction: idle dreams of an indefinite group of technologies which may be ready in a decade, with no financial support or investment by the government. In the meantime, renewable energy continues to leap ahead, mostly without any federal support.

One can only imagine how government investment, if effectively pursued, could push our renewable energy potential by the time the first SMRs are ready for deployment. Given these considerations, perhaps the reason this “Action Plan” is so empty, is that the federal government is in fact aware of how little potential SMRs hold. Like nuclear fusion, maybe SMRs will always be just around the corner. In which case, why bother launching this plan at all? Let’s save our time and investment for renewable energy projects that have viability today, not somewhere down the road.

Burgess Langshaw-Power is a former policy analyst currently completing his PhD in Global Governance at the Balsillie School, University of Waterloo. His policy expertise includes energy technologies, regulatory approvals, climate change, and energy infrastructure. Views expressed here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

“Mutual admiration society” -between civilian and military nuclear experts

Civilian nuclear and military nuclear members of a “mutual admiration society” ~ Dr. Gordon Edwards,  Dr. Gordon Edwards, President of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, December 19, 2020

Civilian nuclear and military nuclear have always been friendly room-mates, members of a “mutual admiration” society. In today’s announcement of an SMR Action Plan, Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said that nuclear power in Canada is a “home-grown” technology and referred to C. D. Howe’s role in this connection.  In fact C.D. Howe arranged for all Canadian uranium extracted from Canadian mines to be sold to the US military for use in tens of thousands of nuclear weapons from 1945 to 1965. C D Howe was also on the Committee that met in Washington DC in 1944 to approve the first nuclear reactors to be built in Canada (at Chalk River) as part of the ongoing effort to produce plutonium for use as a nuclear explosive. Mr. Howe approved of the policy of selling plutonium produced at Chalk River to the US military for weapons use, a practice that continued until 1975 and beyond. Plutonium from Chalk River was sent to Britain (it was the first sample of plutonium that Britain had ever obtained) just a few months before Britain detonated its first A-Bomb in the Monte Bello Islands off Australia.

To the best of my knowledge, no civilian nuclear power agency – not the Canadian Nuclear Association, nor the Canadian Nuclear Society, nor the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, nor Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, nor Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, NOBODY – has ever issued a clear statement denouncing nuclear weapons or even calling for a nuclear weapons free world. Most nuclear scientists and engineers feel a strong kinship and camaraderie with those who are in the nuclear weapons business. The same goes for those in the nuclear division of Natural Resources Canada. I remember on one occasion (prior to the exchange of nuclear tests between India and Pakistan) I expressed alarm at the fact that both neighbours are developing a nuclear war-fighting capability and a couple of senior civil servants said “Would that be so bad? Maybe that’s just what the world needs. More deterrence. Creates stability”

Despite regular denials from our puppet masters that civilian nuclear has nothing to do with military nuclear, it is clear that civilian nuclear (including the frankly discriminatory provisions of the NPT) has adopted an appeasement policy that will never succeed in bringing about a nuclear weapons free world. Why does Canada continue to sell uranium to countries that are in the process of investing hundreds of billions to improve and modernize the nuclear arsenals in utter defiance of the NPT, knowing that the vast bulk of Canadian uranium that is rejected from enrichment plants as DU end up as the raw material for producing plutonium for Bombs, and that the lion’s share of the explosive power – and the overwhelming share of the radioactive fallout – of every H-bomb comes from the fissioning of DU atoms that are freely accessed by the military even if they are the leftovers of “peaceful” fuel production for nuclear power plants?

“See ‘The Nuclear Fudge’ at“. This 16-minute W5 segment from the Regan era is very informative.   

December 22, 2020 Posted by | Canada, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, weapons and war | Leave a comment