Nuclear Power Safety Expert Statement on Delay of Natrium Nuclear Reactor

Published Dec 14, 2022

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The timeline for a nuclear reactor plant slated to be built in Wyoming has been pushed back two years to 2030, according to its developer TerraPower. The company cited the war in Ukraine and a lack of HALEU as the main reason for the delay.

Below is a statement by Edwin Lyman, director of nuclear power safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS):

“The news that the Natrium project will be delayed by at least two years should come as no surprise. The original timetable was far too optimistic—and not only because no feasible alternative suppliers for sufficient HALEU fuel exist other than Russia. There are other potential supply chain gaps for this first-of-a-kind reactor, not to mention numerous technical challenges and safety issues.

“However, even if construction of the reactor were to proceed on schedule, it obviously cannot operate without fuel—a problem that will also affect the X-Energy demonstration plant and all other advanced reactor projects that require HALEU. The DOE should not promote development of any reactor design unless it has a realistic, safe, and economically sustainable path forward for providing the necessary fuel.”