It’s ironic that my Dec. 22 "letter to the editor" came out the same day the Post Register published Idaho National Laboratory's press release about NuScale's proposed small modular reactor—based power plant. The sad fact is that the United States' recent and impending nuclear plant shutdowns represent about fifteen times that much power. Because a modern technological civilization can’t function with “intermittent” power (wind and solar) and fossil fuels are both finite and ruining the environment, we need to first develop and then build about 22 terawatts worth of genuinely sustainable nuclear power plants ASAP. NuScale's reactors are scaled-down versions of the nuclear industry’s light water reactors which means that even if enough (approximately 370,000) of them could be built, they would burn 100 percent of the world’s ”known and undiscovered“ uranium resource in about five years. It’s equally sad that the U.S.'s nuclear energy and research and development establishment refuses to admit those facts and act accordingly. One reason for this is that developing a practical sustainable nuclear fuel cycle is impossible without doing the same sorts of “risky”/messy experimentation performed during the 50s and 60s at Idaho’s National Reactor Testing Station (now INL). Unfortunately, although those efforts successfully designed, built, operated and then safely decommissioned approximately 50 different nuclear reactors, the U.S. never built a test reactor capable of evaluating today’s front-running molten salt reactor-based sustainable reactor concepts and is apparently still not planning to do so. “Roadmapping," computerized modeling and wishful thinking won’t work any better for that project than it did for selecting Integrated Waste Treatment Unit's waste treatment technology.

Darryl Siemer

Idaho Falls

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