Skip to main content

The U.S. Energy Department Should Consider Washington State for Small Reactors, Lawmakers Say

SmallReactor_gregoire_tricityheraldNine U.S. congressional leaders from Washington state penned a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu this week to urge the federal agency to consider the state as a possible location for small nuclear reactors. The letter, signed by both of the state’s U.S. senators and seven U.S. representatives, comes only weeks after Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) submitted a similar letter to the energy secretary, further signaling that the state’s lawmakers are serious about wanting a stake in the upcoming public-private partnership to develop up to two small reactors in this country.
The lawmakers said in the letter that the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford site, a facility used mainly during World War II to create plutonium for America’s defense program, could make a perfect location to develop a small reactor since it could boost the environmental cleanup efforts at the site and create jobs. The Tri-City Herald quotes from the letter:
A small modular reactor in the Tri-Cities could help offset the loss of jobs as Hanford environmental cleanup progresses, according to the letter from the congressional delegation.
"Under current regulations, economic development consideration should be given to weapons complex communities experiencing a downturn in federal employment," the letter said.
Other local leaders have said that a 70-megawatt small reactor could be used to supply the Hanford site’s vitrification plant, a waste treatment facility that converts nuclear waste products into a glass or a glassy substance so that it can be safely stored in a repository. A 30-megawatt small reactor could also be used to help power DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in Richland, Wash.
The congressional leaders in the letter also emphasized that the Tri-Cities is home to the Pacific Northwest’s only nuclear energy facility, the Columbia Generating Station, which originally had planned for two more full-scale nuclear reactors to be located at the site. The Tri-City Herald reports:
The infrastructure developed for those reactors could be used for the construction of new small modular reactors, the letter said.
--
"The site is leased land located squarely within DOE's Hanford Site, which would also prove of benefit to the department in moving this new technology forward," the letter said.
Not only does the Evergreen state have a few locations that could benefit from small reactors, but developing the technology in the state could bring opportunities for U.S. exports, a key point that the governor made in her letter a few weeks ago.
"Small modular reactors, once developed, become a very exportable product that can be of great benefit to China, Korea, Japan and to developing countries around the world," she said. "Hanford and the Tri-Cities could be a keystone to such manufacturing with direct access to ocean-going barges, major interstate highways and railroads."
The Pacific Northwest state has a supportive community, a knowledgeable work force and suitable sites already vetted for nuclear production, said the Tri-City Herald in an editorial yesterday. Given the many benefits this new technology could bring to the United States, DOE should work swiftly and with a sense of urgency over the next few months in making its decision. The editorial continues:
Nothing else on the horizon has the potential to reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere by the extent that the scientific community says is needed to halt global warming -- or to meet the world's growing demand for energy.
--
It's crucial to put any modular reactor on the best possible path for success.
The letter submitted this week to Secretary Chu was signed by members of both political parties, including: Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell; Republican Reps. Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert, and Jaime Herrera Beutler; and Democratic Reps. Norm Dicks, Adam Smith and Rick Larsen.
To read more in small reactor news, see my blog post from earlier this week that highlights a couple of other states that have come forward in announcing their interest in developing this new technology.
Photo: Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire speaks at the Columbia Generating Station in celebration of the plant’s recently renewed license extension to operate until 2043. (Photo credits: Richard Dickin at the Tri-City Herald.)


---
June 25, 2012 update: Full text from the letter is below.




Comments

Anonymous said…
There is a more detailed report about these efforts, as well as similar activities, in South Carolina and Missouri, at Cool Hand Nuke online now
http://theorderoftheironphoenix.com/wp/the-disadvantages-of-using-nuclear-technology/
This really truly reminds me of why we shouldn't build atomic power plants in the nation's capitol.

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…