Monday, September 27, 2021

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The House could vote this week on the Build Back Better infrastructure bill, which contains resources to fight climate change, and the NTSB investigates an Amtrak derailment in north-central Montana.

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A government shutdown looms as the Senate prepares to vote on the debt ceiling, former President Trump holds a rally in Georgia, the U.S. reopens a Texas border crossing, and an Amtrak train crash kills three in Montana.

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A new Oklahoma museum honors tribal nations, while Iowa's history is back on the blacktop; mixed news on COVID-19 comes with a warning about unconventional drugs; and electric cars and buses are coming to rural America.

Experimental Nuclear Reactor Design Could Come to ID

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Monday, January 25, 2021   

BOISE, Idaho -- The public can weigh in this week on an experimental nuclear reactor which could be coming to the Idaho National Laboratory.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a new design known as a "versatile nuclear reactor."

The DOE said it will be used to test nuclear-energy innovations, helping to push the sector forward.

Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety for the Union of Concerned Scientists, believes its construction would pose risks for eastern Idaho.

"People should ask questions about whether the DOE has really done the accident analysis that it needs to, and is being honest with the people about the potential consequences of accidents at that reactor," Lyman contended.

The versatile nuclear reactor is cooled by liquid sodium, which Lyman noted is highly potent. Reactors currently in operation in the U.S. are cooled by water.

The public hearings on the EIS will be held online Wednesday and Thursday.

Lyman added there is another concern with the fuel the reactor would use.

"Unlike the fuels that are used for light-water reactors, which is called low-enriched uranium fuel, that fuel is not directly usable in a nuclear weapon," Lyman explained. "But plutonium is directly usable."

Lyman argued it raises questions about the potential for nuclear proliferation.

The DOE estimated the project will cost between $2.6 and $5.8 billion dollars. Lyman cautioned that's a lot of money for an experimental project.

"The DOE needs to reconsider this whole project, and whether they can spend that money more wisely in helping to improve the safety of existing technologies," Lyman concluded.


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