June 03, 2015

Crapo Introduces Nuclear Energy Innovation Act

Bill to explore possible â??test bedâ?? for fusion and fission reactors at INL, other national labs

Washington, D.C. â?? Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today introduced legislation aimed at encouraging investment and research in nuclear energy.  Crapo says the lack of progress in nuclear technology innovation in the United States is alarming given the rapid pace of nuclear technology advancements in other countries.

S. 1363, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Act, seeks to accelerate nuclear technology developments in the U.S. by directing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in conjunction with other federal agencies, to report to Congress on its ability to authorize, host and oversee privately-funded fusion and fission reactor prototypes at DOE-owned sites, such as the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). 

Already this year, INL has hosted workshops on innovation in nuclear energy which support the ultimate creation of a nuclear test bed.  INL is home to a National Science User Facility that provides access to DOE nuclear research capabilities.  The creation of a nuclear test bed would build upon INLâ??s existing efforts to foster greater industrial collaboration to reduce the risks of deploying new nuclear technologies. 

â??The United States must continue to demonstrate and deploy new nuclear technologies,â?? said Crapo.   â??I look forward to working with officials at the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and researchers at the Idaho National Laboratory to explore the test bed concept.  Nuclear energy must remain a cornerstone of our baseload power generation system, and we must make sure we keep our current nuclear plants operating while we deploy new reactors and new technologies.â??

Specifically, the Department of Energy (in conjunction with other federal agencies) would be required to include the following in its report to Congress:

·         The safety review and oversight capabilities of DOE;

·         Potential sites that would be able to host, research, development and demonstration of prototype reactors;

·         Physical and technical capabilities of DOE and the National Labs relevant to research, development and oversight;

·         Contractual mechanisms available to DOE;

·         Potential cost structures that consider physical security, decommissioning, liability and other long term project costs; and

·         Other issues identified by the Secretary of Energy relevant for potential large prototype reactors.