Officials to decide on nuclear reactor site in eastern Idaho

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — A Utah energy cooperative is narrowing down its selections for a site to build a small commercial nuclear reactor in eastern Idaho.

The Post Register reports ( ) in a story on Wednesday that Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems has identified four places to build what are called small modular reactors at the 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory site.

The cooperative's government affairs officer, Ted Rampton, said the U.S. Department of Energy is expected to weigh in on the selections in coming days.

Oregon-based NuScale Power would build the reactors that can individually produce 50 megawatts. Additional reactors could be built as power demands grow, with up to 12 reactors producing 600 megawatts.

Experts say the reactors are designed to be safer than conventional nuclear plants by being able to shut down without human involvement in the event of a disaster.

Additional steps in the process to build the reactors include an environmental analysis if the company decides to move forward. Also, the project would have to go through the licensing process with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"You never know what questions might come up," said William Magwood, a former NRC commissioner and senior official with the U.S. Department of Energy.

If everything moves forward, officials say the reactors could be up and running by 2024.

NuScale officials have said the cost for 12 small modular reactors is about $3 billion, compared with about $15 billion for a conventional nuclear plant. Part of the cost savings comes from building the modular reactors at a factory and then trucking them to their locations.

The city of Idaho Falls, just east of the Idaho National Laboratory, is one of the Utah energy cooperative's 45 members in eight Western states.


Information from: Post Register,

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