WASHINGTON – On November 8, news broke that NuScale Power, the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, or UAMPS, and the U.S. Department of Energy have terminated their disastrous small modular reactor, or SMR, nuclear project. The boondoggle has wasted hundreds of millions in taxpayer money.
“It's about time the plug was pulled on this small modular reactor disaster,” said Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook. “What a colossal waste of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars, which could have been spent on existing, safe and renewable sources of energy, like solar and wind.”
Communications between the Department of Energy and NuScale obtained by EWG through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal the company’s heavy reliance on federal government financial support to prop up the project. Despite mounting costs, the federal government has promised $1.4 billion to the project, in addition to at least $400 million the company has already squandered.
Just in the last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency has had a series of troubling questions about NuScale’s latest version of its revised SMR design.
In an October 13 email, NRC staff highlighted differences between the composition of steel and concrete used in the NuScale design and that of previous NuScale designs. They expressed the need for more information to determine whether the new design can withstand the impact of an aircraft crash if it includes a steel-plate composite concrete wall.
The NRC staff pointed to another concern in a separate email from October 19 related to insufficient monitoring in the event of a radiation leak.
EWG has been a frequent critic of the arrangement between NuScale, UAMPS and DOE that has already wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. The money has been thrown at the nascent and wildly expensive nuclear technology that will likely never get off the ground as a source of U.S. electricity generation.
- September 2023: Latest Nuclear Power Boondoggle Barrels Toward North Carolina
- July 2023: Small size, big problems: NuScale’s troublesome small modular nuclear reactor plan
- April 2023: North Carolina Senate Passes Bill to Waste Billions on Nuclear Power
- March 2021: Why Small Modular Nuclear Reactors Won’t Help Counter the Climate Crisis
Despite the news on the collapse of the NuScale deal with UAMPS, concerns remain over a similar SMR NuScale reactor model being considered for deployment in North Carolina. Duke Energy, based in that state, is in discussions with NuScale about a SMR project.
Duke Energy claims it will begin building its first SMR as early as 2030 and get it operating by the end of 2034. This economically risky and dangerous adventure could result in substantial cost overruns and potentially higher electricity bills for the state’s residents.
Note: EWG can make available a former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for comment on background.
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.