Is nuclear reactor licensing process being improved as Congress mandated with NEIMA? 1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Comments:


  1. My confusion with Kairos’ Hermes is we have a ‘commercial operation’, which sells no products or services, planning to build a test facility with a national lab – profits from this work are nowhere on the horizon. I guess it is similar to the path [still] being ‘blazed’ by NuScale, which has consumed > $1B over a decade+ (without revenue from sales/services), and hopes to build the FOAK with/at a national lab.

    Aside: During naturalization, applicants for citizenship are quizzed on basic US civics: “What is the economic system of the USA?” – The correct answer is capitalism.

    Building a [series of] test reactor(s)/prototypes in the national labs historically precedes commercialization of their derivatives by the prime contractors (S1W, BORAX); there are exceptions (Peach Bottom 1, AVR, etc.) – the VIPs acknowledge the KP-FHR technology must be demonstrated. The relationship with ORNL is unclear to me. Is Kairos some kind of proxy for interests at ORNL/DOE who believe the FHR will allow them to work with FLiBe without duplicating the MSRE mess that consume millions of dollars annually? Generously assuming Hermes is built, plans for ‘rapid commercialization’ surely follow, likely without much focus the ‘back-end’ of the fuel cycle highlighted by Krall and Macfarlane. I objectively believe the KP-FHR concept will perish. This will occur before, or worse after, operational experience gained at Hermes makes it clear that the basic economics of operating a nuclear power station, for which LWRs set the benchmark, are not ‘disrupted’ by cooling expensive HALEU fuel (made using PVD) with a priceless fluid (enriched lithium, beryllium from beryl) that generates HF when exposed to moisture and acts as a flux removing protective oxides from structural metals.

    Whatever the design goals of the FHR, making money does not appear to be the priority.

    How is the NRC is Approaching Advanced Reactors? The NRC is as serious about advanced reactors as the applicants are about making money. They have other priorities.

  2. ALARA must go. This is a necessary but not sufficient condition for regulatory

    1) No engineer can design to ALARA.

    2) No rational investor can allow himself to be exposed to ALARA.

    3) ALARA gtees that the cost of any technology, no matter how inherently cheap or safe will be pushed up to the point where at best it is barely competitive.

    4) ALARA proclaims to one and all that harmless near background does rates are perilous.

    1. I was wondering what the R in ALARA acutally means. The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists quite a number of possible meanings for the word “reasonable”, e.g. among others:

      1.b) not extreme or excessive

      1.c) moderate, fair

      1.d) inexpensive

      So maybe ALARA is not that bad or maybe the R has some special legal meaning?

      1. In this context, “reasonable” means whatever the regulator deems it to mean. The Flop book has examples of how crazy some of the interpretations can be. But the basic rule seems to be:
        if the plant can afford the alleged reduction, then it’s reasonable.
        This rule means that the cost of any technology will be pushed
        up to the point where it is barely competitive.

        Terrestrial ran into this. Candu reactors produce lots of tritium.
        For practical purposes, tritium is harmless. So the Canadian regulators set the limits high enough that a Candu could afford to
        meet them. Terrestrial’s design is an MSR which produces far less
        tritium than a Candu. Terrestrial argued that if the limits were safe enough for a Candu, then they were safe enough for the MSR. The
        regulators said no way and imposed far tighter limits on the Terrerstrial design. Is this reasonable? The regulator says yes. So it is.

        1. I am sorry to hear this. Equal application of the law is a basic principal of just government. Clearly, the small world of Nuclear Regulators has been captured.

    2. 1) No engineer can design to ALARA.
      I understand the sentiment, but consider the “zero carbon” societal goal we hear about incessantly – I didn’t sign up for that one, find it ludicrous, but everybody’s gut feel is it is something to aspire to. How do you design a plant to ALARA? Well you can’t design to a nebulous construct like that, certainly not an MSR with a MW of noble gas activity boiling out of it per GW of output, but you can design a plant to be consistent with (no worse dose-wise than) the current fleet. While EPZ and plume calcs may seem pseudo-scientific (somebody has to come up with a number), the dose to maintenance workers is a concern in nominal operations. Consider an outage goal of 500 mSV – this is more than enough to poison an individual, spread over maybe 200 workers over 20 days. The rad workers are all trained professionals. Will you be the one to speak to them in the auditorium and tell them to suck up more? What is the plan here?
      2) No rational investor can allow himself to be exposed to ALARA.
      Yes, an investor would be foolish to sponsor a reactor design that was worse in any figure of merit relative to the current fleet, such as lack of serviceability for the primary heat exchanger and offgas components due to a lethal dose field.
      3) ALARA guarantees that the cost of any technology, no matter how inherently cheap or safe will be pushed up to the point where at best it is barely competitive.
      Understand that you want to build MSRs and feel that building them alongside oil tankers in a shipyard is a synergy that Westinghouse, GE, the Russians, Koreans, Japanese, French, Germans, British and every other sophisticated society on the planet doesn’t see. I call your attention to the fact that they all built and operate fleets of reactors AND ships and actively avoid criticality in the fluoride phase.
      4) ALARA proclaims to one and all that harmless near background does rates are perilous.
      Here is how ALARA works in the plant: if work MUST be done in a high rad area, and the dose rate can be quartered by reducing power to 50%, then that is what we do. If work must be performed on a hot component, the room is surveyed, temporary shielding may be placed, and the worker is informed about the expected dose and rate. The worker is instructed to leave the area if his dosimeter is inconsistent with the survey. These are all very reasonable precautions.

      1. @Michael Scarangella

        I’ll let Jack speak for himself and his company. But your comment implies that all reactor types will require similar maintenance cycles and similar maintenance actions.

        The precautions that you selected are, indeed, examples that are reasonable. Now add man-rem reduction programs that reward managers and executives for lowering work force collective doses and you can rapidly approach absurd levels of actions to find and eliminate tiny, inconsequential exposures. Those programs can have negative safety consequences, especially when they result in superficial or avoided inspections in moderate dose rate areas.

        Was the Davis-Besse head corrosion incident an example of avoided inspections – at least partly motivated to keep man-rem low?

        1. The subject on the table is ALARA, not MSR’s. Unless nuclear is cheaper than coal, we are going nowhere. Conventional LWR;s
          could be cheaper than coal as they were in the 1960’s. The reason
          they are not is out-of-control ALARA based regulation. We must have firm stable limits that an engineer can design to and an investor can count on. This applies to the non-LWR technologies
          as well. Without complete revamp of the regulatory system, all
          nuclear will continue going down the same taxpayer funded rabbit hole. The Flop book offers some ideas on what the regulatory system should look like, The panel Rod reports on makes it clear that there will be no such revamp in the United States.

          1. The conventional LWRs of [the late 60s] were scaled-up in the 70s and construction was finished through the 80s at great cost made worse by delays, additional regulatory scrutiny following TMI and high interest rates. The turn-key plants (Dresden, Oyster, etc.) were built at a loss, which the vendors, powerful MIC defense contractors flush with cash at the time, ate in order to learn by doing. The nuke plants of the late ’60s were not ‘cheaper than coal’, they were handed over to the operators at a loss.

            Is a coincidence that you are a vocal opponent of ALARA and a vocal proponent of MSRs? It seems you do understand that a MSR creates radiation hazards that are absurd by any standard – to say they are inconsistent with ALARA would be a vast understatement. It is essentially impossible to get a lethal dose at a fleet nuke and most components may be worked on by hand – that is a good thing. ORNL still doesn’t know what to do with the MSRE the residual fuel and the 1000R/hr dose fields that persist there.


            1. @Michael

              IMO, in an alternative universe, the turnkey vendors would have continued producing the same designs that they had learned to build. But they were genetically predisposed to being defense contractors that were used to making a large portion of their money from change orders. They were selling a product to customers – monopoly utilities – whose cost-plus-a-fixed-return-on-capital-investment model was similar to the DOD market they were used to serving.

              The right choice for them to maximize profits was to keep changing the design and adding costs. For a time, their customers didn’t effectively resist the cost increases because they were beneficial to their own bottom line. The cycle of cost increases slowed when PUCs began holding prudency hearings. But changes forced by changes in federal regulations could generally pass through a prudency review.

              That removed incentives to resist regulatory ratcheting.

              Eventually, the model failed, projects were cancelled and orders disappeared. But the vendors kept making money on servicing and selling fuel while the owners eventually made money by selling electricity in high priced markets – until the good times crashed into the shale gale.

              1. I agree with your assessment about the defense contractor’s desire to continually change the product… Several examples of good changes come to mind, such as the adoption of jet-pump recirculation in the BWR3 (Dresden/Quad Cities).

                I fully support nuclear power and tapering off the use of coal for generating electricity, but I think it is reasonable to assert that nuclear power will never have an economic edge over fossil fuels. This goes double for the plausible LWR alternatives like the SFR, and small gas-cooled types. Russia admits the BN800 does not make power as cheaply as their VVER and I’ve heard the same about the HTR-PM although it may be too early to call. The BN800 is essentially a big Natrium/PRISM, albeit with oxide fuel. As far as I can tell, the KP-FHR just complicates the HTR-PM.

                By calling attention to nuclear power’s inability to compete with fossil-powered technologies in our quasi-capitalistic system, I am hinting at my personal belief that nuclear power can only succeed as a State affair as exists elsewhere, particularly in France. When a large enough consensus develops, the State will build the power stations and hand them over to commercial operators to run. I’d take that over a ‘stimulus’ check any day, but I’m not typical.

          2. Hi Jack,

            I downloaded your book from

            I am just started on it and it looks well written. I suggest you have it converted to EPUB format so it can be read easily on phones and pads.

            The chapters could be summarized in a series of short videos posted to the multiple channels available today. Your message is important and easy to understand. It should spread.

  3. A World Nuclear News article today indicates that the NuScale UAMPS project is about to collapse because of a cost blowout. The new power price estimate isn’t public, but is said to breach the $58 per MWh cap that lets the utilities abandon the deal. Inflation and rising interest rates are being blamed. But I think the problems are deeper: the wrong-headedness of the SMR design philosophy, and the usual problems of ALARA and safety gold-plating.

    I followed the link to minutes of a meeting involving Idaho Falls Power,( p. 10), which says, “GM Prairie said the preliminary cost estimates of the CFPP aren’t looking very good and noted they will likely breach the projected/contracted $58 per megawatt hour (MWh).”

    The minutes also mention “one-third the price or about $30 per MWh potentially,” which suggests that the power price is now estimated at $90 per MWh, (although the statement is a bit confusing so maybe I misread it).

    The minutes also say, “the project is in the stage of finalizing NuScale and Fluor’s costs to a solid class 3 engineering estimate and…the increased costs have been shocking to both partners.” This indicates that it’s not just rising inflation and interest rates that are driving up the cost, but the inherent difficulty and expense of construction itself. (Why can’t engineers estimate costs more realistically at earlier stages of the design process, so they don’t always end up being “shocked” this way?)

    This is another sign that SMRs may not pan out:

    1) Modularity doesn’t seem to be delivering decisive cost reductions for SMRs (or for AP1000s, which was also supposed to be modular.)

    2) Small is expensive. The decision to downscale UAMPS from a 12-pack to a 6-pack may have been fatal. A 12-pack would have had twice the output but less than twice the construction cost and little extra operations costs. Economies of scale really matter, and modularity doesn’t seem to make up for the diseconomies of small scale.

    3) Gold-plating is unaffordable. NuScale trumpeted its safety and microscopically small core-damage frequency–just once in 3 billion years! But how much did it cost to reduce that risk from, say, once in 3 million years? And is that really worth it? I’m not an engineer and I don’t know what the specific design issues are. But whether because of ALARA or some other reason, there is clearly a mindset of eradicating trivial risks, even at a shocking cost.

    1. @Will

      I read the same WNN article, but did not get the impression that there was a “cost blowout” or that the cost increases were likely to lead to a project collapse. Any moderately sophisticated buyer in today’s market should not be surprised by substantial cost increases for materials, manufactured products and capital intensive construction projects that require market-rate borrowing.

      Modularity is only a cost saver when it enables and actually contributes to series production. Creating a system that can be build from modules and then producing a small, finite number of finished systems is likely to increase the cost compared to “stick built” construction methods.

      1. @ Rod,

        The WNN article was sourced mainly to PR statements by NuScale, which definitely doesn’t want to give the impression of a cost blowout. That’s why I went to the original source document, the public regulatory meeting where Idaho Falls Power discussed the new cost estimate. (I linked to it above, so you can have a look.)

        Maybe I misinterpreted, but the excerpts I discussed above suggest the new cost estimate is about $90 per MWh, or 50 percent above the old estimated cap of $58 per MWh. That’s blowout territory–and it’s still just another estimate without any work actually done on the plant, which is when even bigger blowouts tend to erupt.

        I think the new cost estimates are likely to lead to a project collapse. A main reason the project was downscaled to a 6-pack was that it couldn’t find enough utilities to subscribe. That suggests cost sensitivity among regional utilities.

        And it’s not only the buyer that’s surprised by the cost increase–the vendors themselves are “shocked” by the new estimate of their cost to construct, according to the document. They’re the ones who contracted for a $58 per MWh cap on the price, which should have included a contingency for anticipated cost increases. Now that the cost has blown past the contracted cap, we should expect a sophisticated utility to execute the clause that let’s them abandon the project.

        –Granted, modularity needs economies of series production. But a 6-pack is a series of 6. Maybe there’s a catch-22 bedeviling SMRs–they can’t be built economically without a large series of orders, but no one will order a large enough series until they’re proven to be economical.

        But that points up another contradiction in the SMR marketing strategy. One of the advantages NuScale has been selling is: our modularity lets us build you a small plant whose total cost won’t bankrupt you like an EPR might. But as we’re seeing now, that just makes the power too expensive per MWh because of diseconomies of small scale. Moreover, small scale of plants means small series of modules, so you can’t develop the economies of series that might lower modular construction costs.

        Small is ugly, and modularity doesn’t seem able to make up for that.

        1. @Will Boisvert

          LCOE model outputs are very sensitive to interest rates/cost of capital. I cannot explain why NuScale did not include escalation clauses in its contract to account for the possibility that interest rates would rise. It is akin to a home seller contracting with a buyer for a fixed monthly payment without contracting arranging for a fixed rate mortgage – and then having the sale delayed by several years.
          Most of the LCOE models available on line don’t include an input for interest rate/cost of capital, so I used a mortgage calculator.
          The principle and interest portion of a house payment using a 30 yr mortgage, a 400K home price, a 20% down payment and a 3% interest rate (the rate I am paying on a house purchased 5 years ago) is $1349. Same parameters and a 6.75% interest rate (today’s number) yields a monthly payment of $2075. That’s a 54% increase in the monthly P&I due SOLELY to interest rates.

          Changes in supply-demand, building materials and labor cost increases have pushed $400K homes to at least $500K in my area in the past 5 years. I can’t tell how much each component has contributed.

          When companies talk about series economics and learning by doing, they’re not talking about 6 units. Over the couple of decades that I have been following NuScale, I’ve consistently heard them talk about needing to build 30 or more modules before they reach “nth of a kind” costs.

          I agree that FOAK costs are a hurdle that must be overcome before series economies can be achieved. Companies need to be able to effectively raise enough capital to ensure that their first commercial customers do not have to pay all of the costs and take all of the risks of FOAK projects while the developer walks away with all of the valuable IP and infrastructure for building a more economical series of products.

          That is where organizations like Nucleation Capital (venture capital), DOE (R&D funding), Guggenheim Partners (investment bankers that help arrange public offerings) and the DOE Loan Programs Office (large project finance loans) come in.

          1. Yes, interest rates and inflation are important factors. Raising interest rates by the 200 basis points mentioned in the article would raise the LCOE by about $10 per MWh, assuming $5,000 per kw construction costs, 90 percent capacity factor and 30-year payback. (I’m using the NREL LCOE calculator.)

            But the smallness is a main factor too. Downsizing from a 12-pack to a 6-pack is automatically going to nearly double the operations component of LCOE, which is mainly overhead, and raise the construction and finance component too.

            And the design is a major factor, according to the source above, to wit, ““the project is in the stage of finalizing NuScale and Fluor’s costs to a solid class 3 engineering estimate and…the increased costs have been shocking to both partners.”

            To me that line suggests that it’s not just the finance guys getting shocked by interest rates and inflation. The engineers are shocked too because they are finally drawing up detailed class 3 blueprints and realizing that the plant is intrinsically going to cost a lot more to build than they reckoned.

            –NuScale should be thinking in terms of building big plants with their small reactor–not 462-MW 6-pack plants, but 3 GW plants with 3 12-packs. That would put them past the magic number of 30.

            But, again, I suspect that NuScale is just too gold-plated even if it achieves series economies. It doesn’t need to be safe enough to run for 3 billion years before the first expected core-damage incident. That’s just too safe, which likely means too expensive, which would make it a bad design.

            Happy to eat my hat if I’m wrong about all this!

            1. @Will

              There are no customers for a massive FOAK power station. It’s far too financially risky to take that huge leap without building a smaller demonstration project that will both prove that the system operates like it is supposed to operate and to provide a basis on which to refine the design.

              Learning-by-doing works to reduce cost and improve schedule performance only AFTER some “doing” has occurred.

              1. @ Rod

                Fair point, a massive FOAK plant is a very difficult hump to get over. (Maybe not impossible: the Koreans sold UAE the 5.4 GW Barakah plant well before they finished a demo of the APR1400. But that was less of a design leap than NuScale.)

                But that just highlights the importance of a design that minimizes FOAK costs to begin with, a design that’s not gold-plated and doesn’t strain after microscopic risk-reductions.

                There’s a mindset among a lot of pro-nuclear thinkers that it doesn’t much matter which model we choose or how much it costs to begin with, because if we just build a lot of them then series economies will finally ride to the rescue and make it cheap.

                I question that, first because, as we’ve been discussing, you can’t get there from here. You can’t get to series economies and NOAK costs because FOAK costs–and even SOAK and TOAK costs, etc.–are too high to win enough orders.

                But even if we get substantial series economies, for many models that will still never deliver reasonable NOAK costs. The EPR is never going to be cheap no matter how many we build, it’s just too overengineered.

                Maybe NuScale can reach cheap NOAK, but I’d wager that even at NOAK the design will still be pretty pricey. And if it becomes affordable, it will only be on the basis of very large, multi-GW plants.

                So we need the right design, affordable even for FOAK, which means engineers have to make calculated compromises on (small) risks to keep costs down, and regulators and utilities have to accept those compromises. If not, the industry won’t get out of the doldrums.

                I don’t see SMRs delivering that, and I see the smallness strategy actively hindering it.

                1. @Will Boisvert

                  I’m not sure what parts of NuScale’s design qualify as “gold-plating.” From where I sit, their simplified, natural circulation, thermos-bottle containment, and integral design without large diameter pipes offers a path towards NOAK costs that are certainly competitive with large light water reactors in a 12-Pack configuration (or multiple 12-packs on a single site) while also offering sizes that are more appropriate and competitive in markets that simply do not need or want GW scale power plants.

                  Smaller reactor cores might be slightly less thermally efficient, but that characteristic can be a feature, not a bug, in safety system design. Cores that lose a little heat during operation lose enough heat during accident scenarios to stay below design temperature limits without any forced coolant flow. No need for high pressure injection systems, especially in combination with the integral pressure vessel design.

                  In my economic analysis, closing a significantly smaller module design lowers to FOAK “humP” enough so that reasonably well capitalized companies can clear it with a less complicated financial structure. A doubling of estimated capital cost like the one that happened during Vogtle project would not kill the entire design project for future orders.

                  One more thing – have you done any reading or research on the EPR 2 design?

                  1. @ Rod, good points,

                    I don’t know what the gold-plating is on NuScale. It’s possible that it’s the most stripped-down, bare-bones, el cheapo version they could possibly design, with no fat to trim.

                    I’m skeptical of that idea because of their eagerness to tout the ultra-safe PRAs. If they had something like 1 core damage event in 3 billion years as an actual design criterion, I suspect that will result in gold plating. What the gold-plating was–extra padding for the cooling system? extravagant seismic engineering?–I don’t know, I can only speculate.

                    I understand the attractiveness of the NuScale design philosophy: small reactors that are easy to cool indefinitely with simple equipment and no intervention, can be made with a small press for the RPV instead of a behemoth, assembly-line production should crater the cost.

                    But it doesn’t seem to be working out. If there’s a rockslide of FOAK costs blocking your pathway to NOAK, then you have to find another pathway.

                    Bear in mind that the orignal UAMPS estimates undoubtedly took into account FOAK costs, and reckoned that various government subsidies would somewhat offset them. The $58 per MWh cap is also probably somewhat higher than market rates because UAMPS wanted to get ahead of the curve on the big push for low-carbon power and wanted the green good will.

                    So the idea of absorbing higher FOAK costs was likely recognized and accepted in the original contract. UAMPS was meant and budgeted by all parties to be the small, somewhat more expensive FOAK demo that proves the concept and draws further orders.

                    The problem now is that, in addition to inflation and higher interest rates, the detailed engineering studies are likely showing that FOAK costs are a lot higher than anticipated in the contract. So it looks like the small demo may fall through–no pathway over the rock slide.

                    And where FOAK costs are much higher, it’s likely that the asymptote of NOAK costs will also be much higher than anticipated, so less attractive to subsequent customers.

                    We have to confront the likelihood that NuScale is an intrinsically expensive design. If there really is no gold-plating to remove to make it cheaper, it may have to be shelved.

                    And as for serving small markets that don’t support GW + scale plants, we may have to accept that nuclear just won’t work in those markets–too expensive to build and too dependent on economies of plant scale.

                  2. @ Rod,

                    The EPR 2 development is very interesting and instructive.

                    I haven’t found much on it, but what I’ve read shows that EPR 2 isn’t really an evolution of the EPR. It’s a major design change that amounts to a repudiation of Gen 3 gold-plating and a step back towards Gen 2.

                    For example, EPR 2 ditches the EPR’s double-hulled containment structure and goes back to a conventional single-hull design. That’s huge. Double-hulled containments have proven very hard to build and caused massive delays and cost overruns. The Hualong One and the latest VVERs also have double hulls, which are greatly inflating the costs of those builds as well.

                    In repudiating double hulls the EPR 2 is tacitly repudiating the aircraft impact rule that motivates double-hulling. So it’s abandoning a central pillar of Gen 3 design criteria, and a philosophy of designing against even the most far-fetched scenarios.

                    There’s also a step back from Gen 3 functionality in EPR 2. For example, it will no longer be designed for maintenance at full power.

                    This is all to the good. It’s a recognition that the EPR and similar gold-plated designs will never be affordable even with NOAK series construction, and that we need to retrench to Gen 2 models that have proven themselves.

    2. NuScale got the EPZ shrunk down to the site boundary. Doesn’t sound like ALARA is to blame here. NuScale never had good economics – the best I could do was chip away at the fuel cycle on blogs, Reddit, etc.. crack jokes about how much cheaper it is to have 12 steam plants for little more than half the power of AP1000 /s.

      I’ve been saying for years that the only benefit provided by the smrs, startups and all of the DOE spending is that the we develop some people. Throwing this money away is a price to pay to cultivate some indigenous talent.

      1. @michael

        How many regulator and technical expert hours do you figure it took to convince the NRC to make a logical adjustment to the arbitrarily chosen EPZ applied to the GWe class LWRs?

        Do you actually believe that ALARA didn’t factor into the decision process?

        The NRC was asked to revise its EPZ requirements in preparation for SMRs and non LWRs at least a dozen years before it finally made the NuScale determination.

        They also had a formal petition for rulemaking to change their radiation protection program basis from the LNT to a modern evidence-based model under review for 6 years before finally giving up and reverting to the way it has always been before.

  4. Michael, you keep trying to push me into an LWR vs MSR debate,
    which I have no interest in. It would be counter-productive.
    But now you have gone from unnecessarily argumentative to
    misleading. The activity of the MSRE salt meets WIPP activity requirements
    and is easily shielded for transport. The fluorine produced
    by radiolysis can be trapped by sodium iodide, resulting
    in NaF and iodine.

    The whole boongoggle could have been prevented if DOE
    had given ORNL $50K when they abruptly shut down the molten salt
    program. Please see Trashing the MSRE at
    I wrote this piece to counter a dedicated anti-nuke’s propaganda.
    Disappointing to have to use it to counter a pro-nuke.


    PS Tried to put this reply where it should be in the thread above
    but for some reason could not make it work.


    1. Jack,

      I started reading your book at The book is well written and easy to understand. I think it is important to share this widely. I suggest you have it converted to EPUB format and have some short video summaries done for each of the chapters. I have visited about 20 countries and spent 20 years living overseas and visiting areas of extreme poverty. Since 2008 I understood the vast potential of Nuclear Power to help my friends. I also understood, after careful study of the economics and intertwining politics that Nuclear is suppressed BECAUSE it is able to replace fossil fuel. It’s very density makes it a target for suppression because fewer overall jobs are needed and the flow of materials is much less. This means fewer items to tax, control, fight over, etc. In other words, one of the reasons (besides its amazing utility) that fossil fuels are maintained is that local, low level politicians can easily see how they can profit from them in a multitude of ways. Nuclear comes in with a technical solution that is so dense and compact that a local politician has a harder time knowing what to do with it. Not much to touch and feel on a daily basis. This is a reason why the Micro Reactors and SMR’s have potential. They are local enough to be taken advantage of. Your push for reasonable regulation is RIGHT but needs a movement to support it and convince the locals to really support it.

      1. David,

        Thanks kind words. Nuclear power could solve both energy poverty
        and global warming (like you, I worry more about the former than the latter) but only if it’s truly cheap, as cheap as it could be thanks to the remarkable energy density. Only if its cheaper than fossil will there be gravy for creepy politicians to squabble over. As long as the nuclear establishment is preaching LNT and ALARA, we will not have cheap nuclear. We will not have a solution to teh Gordian knot.

        We tried going to EPUB but to my old fogey eyes, the floating format made a total hash out of things. The requirement for full color pushed the minimum hard copy cost to an indecent 60 bucks. So we decided the best we thing to do is to make the pdf available for free.
        This also allows corrections and amplifications. The book is now on its 71st version.

        Many of the other downloads available at the site are attempts to address one issue at a time, but it is a pain to have to repeat radiation basics for each piece. Something is inevitably lost. I suggest wading thru the book skimming over the places where it gets too deep intot the weeds.

          1. Not to mention the fact that the nuclear generator produces no air pollution, no water pollution, and no CO2.

            It’s also likely to be far quieter than a diesel generator. Though diesel technology has been greatly improved since my submarining days, we used to refer to using our diesel as “crushing rocks.” (We didn’t run that machine very often, it was useful for training and for emergencies.)

  5. The French 900 MW reactor series was made at low cost and high speed precisely because the French government had ordered dozens of them. When preparing for WW2 at Pres Roosevelt’s request, General Motors had converted in a matter of months to making tanks and planes by the hundreds. Yet the mass production of SMRs seems to falter, as if needing the same presidential intervention.

    Currently, at the COP meetings, delegates of climate-threatened nations are demanding “mitigation and reparation” funding. But should we be giving a hungry man a fish or a fishing rod? This does seem to be the ideal occasion for the nuclear nations to be donating turnkey installations of SMRs to small nations too cash-strapped to construct their own non-fossil generators. Non-nuclear countries (such as Australia) should be persuaded at these COP talks to help fund the construction and installation of the SMRs.

    1. The critical difference between the French success in the 70’s and 80’s and the US mess was the form of regulation. EDF was given complete control of the project. I t was a form of self-regulation. The nominal regulator was buried deep inteh Ministry of Industry,. There was no independent regulator, no regulatory volatility and no back fitting,

      When people argue for the French system of that time they are arguing for self-regualtion.

      1. @Jack

        Doesn’t France now have an “independent” regulator that is about as supportive of nuclear as the NRC?

        If my understanding is true what changed? When did it happen?

        1. The present ANS was set up in 2006.
          I believe ANS prides itself on being “stricter” than the NRC.

          Don’t know what regulatory
          changes took place before then.
          The French program fell completely apart in the 1990’s,
          a combination of monopoly inefficiencies, extremely strong unions, and loss of political support.

          1. @Jack

            Another factor that contributed to the ending of nuclear plant construction in France was market saturation. There just wasn’t a significant unmet market left.

          2. Regardless of what division/authority/ministry is involved in construction/operation/oversight, the French government built the reactors and they are operated by EDF, which is a government monopoly, in a quasi market. It’s run for societal benefit; those that can pay their bill pay their bill, those that cannot are subsidized. I’m too lazy to research it, but imagine it’s similar most elsewhere.

            I for one don’t wonder why there isn’t competition in my municipal water supply.. it’s not like a competitor can come in and rip up the streets to lay new pipe. Considering the vast social programs we have in the USA, from Medicare to subsidized housing to Social Security, I don’t understand why we insist the electric infrastructure be a ‘market’ instead of just infrastructure like the interstate highways. I tried getting through “Shorting the Grid” – my takeaway was the electric market is not a market.

            1. Building plants is not a natural monopoly like
              supplying water or to a certain extent electricity.
              The Japanese have done a good job separating the two.
              Mitsubishi (LWR) and GE-hitachi (BWR) compete
              with each other to supply the utilities their plants.
              See Nuclear Is Too Slow at
              You should want yr local water utility to put out
              the pipe laying to competitive bid.

              1. While Mitsubishi may be more of a ‘corporation’ than EDF, construction in Japan was incentivized by the government. The fact that ThorCon is directly soliciting the Indonesian government shows your understanding that only governments build nuclear reactors these days, even if that is accomplished through financial incentives to corporations. CNNC, Atomstroyexport, Framatome, are all government vehicles – the US Department of State has tried to get business for Westinghouse on multiple occasions (India, Saudi, Poland). None of this is any different than Lockheed building warplanes for the DOD, except maybe there’s a board of directors and you can own a share. The line between Corporation and government is blurred in the US and everywhere else. Nuclear power is a socialist endeavor. Further construction will only be possible with government incentive. This is especially fitting considering the oversight requirements to assure public safety. You can’t even insure these things without government mandate.

  6. Interesting comment from Mo Shams about there being at least 6 applicants who have the potential to receive an operating license by 2027.

    Only Kairos, and ACU have submitted CPAs. NuScale says they’ll submit an SDA application by the end of the year. Assuming the other “applicants” (quotes becuase they have yet to apply) are X-energy, TerraPower, and Westinghouse (e-vinci), and they are going the Part 50 route, operating licenes in 2027 sounds like a challenge, especially if they don’t submit any CPAs by the end of Q1-2023.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts