By John McClaughry
If you’re interested in learning why the United States is lagging far back in developing safe, efficient, modular nuclear reactors, look no further than the ordeal of NuScale, an Oregon startup company that has been trying to get licensed for 12 years by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
In 2007, Dr. Jose Reyes of NuScale entered the regulatory black hole at the NRC. One after another, the company met a series of regulatory deadlines for their design. In January 2015, the company announced that it had met the 2014 deadline. Somebody asked how long it would be before the NRC replied to the submission. The answer: Thirty-nine months. Over three years of waiting. In April 2018 NRC approved for a working prototype to be tested in 2027.
That means 20 years will have elapsed just to the working prototype stage, with not one dollar of revenues to reduce the 20-year cost of building the prototype and flipping the on switch. And if the engineers think up a great new modification, they have to get that approved, requiring even more years.
I have been saying for years that the coming breakthrough in Generation Four nuclear power may be designed by Americans, or not, but it will be licensed, built and put online in some other country, like China or India or even South Africa.
Nuclear safety is important, but this is horrendous bureaucratic constipation, and America is paying dearly for it.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.