[Dianne, US Senator, “AN EXAMINATION OF THE SAFETY AND ECONOMICS OF LIGHT WATER SMALL MODULAR REACTORS: HEARING before a SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS FIRST SESSION, SPECIAL HEARING, JULY 14, 2011--WASHINGTON DC,” http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112shrg72251/html/CHRG-112shrg72251.htm]
The Fukushima crisis also demonstrated the potential danger of storing spent fuel in pools on site, and yet the proposed SMR designs do not appear to make any improvements in this method of spent-fuel storage. Bluntly, I'm struggling to reconcile the lessons of Fukushima with the principal design premise of SMRs, and so I look forward to witnesses addressing these issues today. This hearing is not about spent fuel, but it's hard to have a hearing on new nuclear power without considering the issue of what we do with the waste. This country has not--and I stress not--done a good job dealing with defense or commercial nuclear waste. That's simply a fact. Today, we have no national policy to address our commercial spent nuclear fuel, and we store it at every nuclear plant in the country in pools and dry casks for decades without end. Yet, today we're considering investing $452 million in LW SMRs that will result in more spent fuel stored at sites with no permanent storage for waste. By law, the Federal Government must take this waste and store it permanently but, today, the Federal Government is being sued and is making payments for lost cases because it cannot fulfill that obligation. This is not inexpensive. The Government Accountability Office estimates that we face $12.3 billion in liability through 2020 if we fail to take the spent fuel from utilities. That's $12.3 billion of liability. Now, that's a very deep concern and should concern every one of us in this Congress. Presumably, building new plants licensed under the SMR program would only increase this liability. While we discuss the specific safety and economic issues of LW SMRs, I continue to view these issues with the absence of a spent-fuel policy. I visited our two reactors in California and, candidly, I don't know how the NRC can say it's fine to keep re-racking spent fuels, adding more rods, keeping them there in California for 24 years, transferring to dry casks, most of which are designed for transportation to permanent storage, and we have no permanent storage. We have no repository. We have no regional storage. We have no permanent storage, and yet we're looking at a new start. So I'm struggling to understand how these reactors will also be economical. The central premise I've been given is that for SMRs to be economical, they must offset the loss of economies of scale with economies of manufacturing.
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