Positives of small modular reactors touted at event
COLUMBIA — Four scientific papers were presented Tuesday in support of the use of small modular reactors, also known as an SMR.
The papers were presented during a discussion in Columbia at the annual Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Analysis event. The event is held with the purpose of studying major risk and safety assessment information for nuclear sites.
“One paper assessed the security risks behind SMRs, and the other three focused on safety assessment,” said Thomas Sanders, a Savannah River National Laboratory lab director. “The papers included data on if an SMR needed a back-up cooling system, control system or anything that would impact the critical integrity of a plant.”
According to Sanders, who also is president of the American Nuclear Society, scientists at the event studied risk on a “worst-case scenario” basis. The assessments are used to help nuclear plants operate within their means.
“(Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Analysis) takes a structured approach to evaluate the probability of risk and works to reduce that risk,” said Sanders.
Sanders continued by listing the advantages of the reactors. He said their smaller size would allow them to be built in a factory, which would reduce production time and make them more affordable. In addition, he said the reactors are flexible in terms of power levels, which would save customers’ money.
“The cost per kilowatt may increase, but that would be overshadowed by the speedier implementation,” Sanders added.
Sanders feels that the reactors could be regularly used in the next 10 years. American usage of small modular reactors would also spark foreign trade, according to Sanders.
“American technology will be made available for export,” he said. “It will allow us to negotiate with other nations in addition to revamping the nuclear industry.”
Tuesday’s discussion on the reactors came while nuclear sites around the country wait for the Department of Energy to announce the beneficiary of a $226 million grant dedicated to the development of the reactors.
“The Department is continuing to work through the review process for this important program, and is committed to ensuringthat we take the time during the review process to get the decision right,” said Niketa Kumar, a DOE spokesperson.
Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard news team and joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and graduated from Georgia Southern University with a journalism degree in May 2012.