Digital News Report – WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) urged Energy Secretary Steven Chu today during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, of which Alexander is a member, to consider the use of a small, “modular” nuclear reactor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
“I’m wondering if your own departmental goals for greenhouse gases and the interest in small modular reactors might offer a way to accelerate pilot programs to see how they work?” Alexander asked Secretary Chu. “I’m sure the first reactors would have an additional cost to them – a cost that’s always associated with a start-up – but if it were part of a Navy installation or part of a Department of Energy greenhouse gas goal, I wonder whether a small reactor at Oak Ridge—where a 125-megawatt reactor could eliminate the need for any additional power over the entire Oak Ridge complex and meet 48 percent of the Department of Energy’s greenhouse gas reduction goals—might be a wise approach. One small reactor by itself could help the Department of Energy meet half of its 2020 greenhouse gas goals.”
Secretary Chu responded that Senator Alexander was “absolutely right” about putting a small reactor at Oak Ridge which has a site nearby “that was designed for a reactor that’s waiting and ready to be used.” Chu also said that “small modular reactors is one area where we think we can take a technological lead and would be great for export as well.”