Bingaman on Small Scale Nuclear Energy

December 15, 2009
10:11 AM
“The purpose of today’s hearing is to receive testimony on two bills -- S. 2052, the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative Improvement Act, by Sen. Mark Udall, of which Senators Murkowski, Crapo and I are co-sponsors, and S. 2812, the Nuclear Power 2021 Act, a bill introduced by myself, with Sens. Murkowski, Mark Udall and Pryor as co-sponsors.
“I want to thank the witnesses for testifying today.  We have two New Mexican’s here, Assistant Secretary Pete Miller from the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, who spent many years at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Dr. Tom Sanders, the president of the American Nuclear Society, who is a long-standing member of the Sandia National Laboratories.  I welcome you all to today’s hearing.
“Small nuclear reactors, those that are less than 300 megawatts, hold the promise of reducing the costs of nuclear plant construction.  Proponents claim these reactors can utilize modular construction techniques where plant subassemblies can be built and assembled on-site, thus reducing the construction costs.  The large cost of building a nuclear plant is a major issue where, 2,000 megawatt plants now exceed $14 billion.  In addition, advocates believe that the small size makes it applicable to the chemical industry for process heat, thus minimizing carbon dioxide emissions.
“The bills before us today establish research programs to reduce the cost of construction of small reactors as well authorize two cost-shared demonstrations to license before the NRC.  There are many opinions on the merits of these reactors, so we look forward to hearing from the witnesses about the legislation before us.”
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