Small reactor work at SRS put on hold

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 12:29 a.m.
    UPDATED: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 2:53 a.m.

The Department of Energy has put all work on small modular reactors at Savannah River Site on hold.

The much publicized initiative aimed to spearhead the development of this next generation of portable, refrigerator-sized reactors to SRS and the Savannah River National Lab.

SMRs are envisioned to be small enough to be pre-assembled in a factory and shipped to any location. They have been continually touted as one of the cornerstones of SRS’ vision for the DOE facility’s future – Enterprise SRS.

“DOE-SR has directed (Savannah River Nuclear Solutions) to suspend all activities on the small modular reactor initiatives for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution,” James Guisti, acting director of DOE-SR external affairs, confirmed to the Aiken Standard on Tuesday.

Reports of the closing of government purse strings for the project began with an article in industry publication Weapons Complex Monitor on Friday.

“The White House Office of Management and Budget has directed the Department of Energy to stop funding work related to the potential siting of small modular reactors at the site, WC Monitor has learned,” reporter Kenneth Fletcher wrote. “The change applies to DOE Office of Environmental Management funding being used for the work – the amount of which remains unclear – provided for the first half of this fiscal year through the Continuing Resolution funding most federal programs.”

These easy-to-install reactors could potentially shave years and millions of dollars off the construction of nuclear power plants, and could make it economical to bring nuclear power to rural areas that lack infrastructure.

“We are evaluating what impact this will have on Enterprise SRS,” Guisti said. “SMRs are only one initiative of our strategic vision for SRS and we have not abandon them while we explore other funding avenues.”

President of SRNS Dr. David Moody described SRS as the “perfect place” to accelerate deployment of small modular reactor technology and to develop lead used nuclear fuel-cycle initiatives.

“Small modular reactor technology development is an excellent example of how we are capturing our nuclear knowledge for the future and leveraging the best-of-our-best to renew the true value of SRS for decades to come,” Moody said last year.

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