Skip to main content

NuScale Back in Action with Unexpected Support

The other day, we mentioned Babcock & Wilcox’s small reactor project and its indirect use in the Gubernatorial race in Indiana. Now, another vendor of small reactors, NuScale, has attracted some press attention from Reuters. It’s especially nice to see that NuScale has overcome its financial difficulties.

NuScale staff half-jokingly refer to the first half of 2011 as the "Great Pause," when NuScale could not pay its bills and dozens among its 100 employees at the time had to be let go. It now employs 260 people, and hopes to add another 70 by year-end.

And how did it do this, at least in part?

But NuScale is trumpeting the safety aspects of its new technology, and has found helpful supporters including U.S. engineering giant Fluor Corp, which bought a majority stake in the 5-year-old company last October.

Fluor is no stranger to the nuclear energy business. Start here for more on its activities. Fluor has been around for much of the nuclear age.

Like Indiana, Oregon, where NuScale is located, has no nuclear energy facilities. It closed its one plant, called Trojan, in 1992. But, as with Pence in the Hoosier state, NuScale has found some support from the Beavers.

Yet the NuScale design has managed to win over Oregon's national representatives, who tend to be against nuclear power. Senator Jeff Merkley, a self-described "proud progressive," surprised [NuScale Chief Executive Paul] Lorenzini by throwing his support behind SMRs.

The story talks a bit about other subjects – and is interesting in general – but the key point is that NuScale has found a path forward. There are a lot of hurdles yet to clear in the small reactor arena and some of the numerous competitors will probably fail as the marketplace develops. But let’s at least have the marketplace develop some more before/if the winnowing starts.

---

If friends knew that I don’t like mushrooms, they might tease me by telling me they love them.

Then I would say, “Mushrooms wouldn’t exist without government help. No one would eat them.”

“But did you see the study that mushrooms are a great source of potassium?”

“More propaganda from the mushroom brigade,” says I. “Mushrooms are just dolled-up toadstools.”

And on and on.

So, in the middle of his story on NuScale, writer Braden Reddall felt the need to get the other side.

"SMRs are just the next chapter in a nuclear industry that can't stand up on its own," said Don Hancock, director for nuclear waste safety at the Southwest Research and Information Center. "So it always has to be funded by the government."

It can’t be fun having reporters calling on you to play the tarantula on the valentine all the time. I wonder if his friends tell him how much they’d like more nuclear energy facilities in the area.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear Is a Long-Term Investment for Ohio that Will Pay Big

With 50 different state legislative calendars, more than half of them adjourn by June, and those still in session throughout the year usually take a recess in the summer. So springtime is prime time for state legislative activity. In the next few weeks, legislatures are hosting hearings and calling for votes on bills that have been battered back and forth in the capital halls.

On Tuesday, The Ohio Public Utilities Committee hosted its third round of hearings on the Zero Emissions Nuclear Resources Program, House Bill 178, and NEI’s Maria Korsnick testified before a jam-packed room of legislators.


Washingtonians parachuting into state debates can be a tricky platform, but in this case, Maria’s remarks provided national perspective that put the Ohio conundrum into context. At the heart of this debate is the impact nuclear plants have on local jobs and the local economy, and that nuclear assets should be viewed as “long-term investments” for the state. Of course, clean air and electrons …