On February 27, 2011, Energy Now aired a segment that focused on small modular reactors, particularly the one being developed by NuScale in Corvallis, Oregon. I interviewed Jose Reyes and Paul Lorenzini about their project for Show #100 of The Atomic Show, way back on August 3, 2008.
As you watch this special, pay close attention to the points at which the reporter explains why he and his producers believe it will be a long time before there are small modular reactors operating in the United States. I assume they did not take the time to understand that there have been small modular reactors produced in the past – like the Army’s series of small reactors that were deployed to remote areas – and that there are reactors being produced in the US today that are both small and manufactured mainly in domestic factories.
There is no doubt that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, without pressure to change by people who recognize the importance of that change, will do what it does best in response to the growing interest in SMRs. It will slowly, methodically, and unpredictably. It evaluate every single possible aspect of the designs, ask a ton of questions, lose track of some of the answers, ask more questions, open up the process to legal hearings and testimony by any intervenor who can establish standing, and eventually ensure that inpatient suppliers of financial resources find more productive investments.
Disclosure: I work for a small modular reactor project – not the one featured by Energy Now. I am betting my future on the belief that changing the current regulatory structure is not only possible, but probable. All we need to do is continue to raise awareness of how much the current situation is hurting all of the Americans who do not sell competitive energy products.