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Scientists Criticize Small-Scale Nuclear Plants Planned For The Idaho Desert

NuScale Power
An artist’s rendering of NuScale Power’s small modular nuclear reactor plant.";s:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has signed off on a design for a small modular nuclear reactor, but some scientists say the approval is misguided.


These reactors are about a third of the size of standard nuclear plants and proponents say they’re more efficient. NuScale Power is the private Oregon company that designed the reactor and calls the federal approval a “significant milestone” for the U.S. nuclear sector.

M. V. Ramana, a professor at the University of British Columbia who specializes in nuclear energy said the NRC overlooked safety and cost issues.

“Investment in the project is simply not prudent,” he said in a press conference.

Ramana said solar and wind energies are better alternatives to fossil fuels.

“Just like large reactors, the proposed new scale reactor design will produce radioactive waste of many kinds,” he said.

According to the Idaho National Lab’s website, reactors are planned to be built in the Idaho desert, but an exact location hasn’t been picked.

The Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems, a collection of small publicly-owned municipal utilities around the West including Utah, California, Idaho and Nevada, has partnered with NuScale for future power production.

NuScale refused to respond unless provided questions before an interview.

Follow Sáša Woodruff on Twitter @trowelandfork for more local news.

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