The latest great white hope of the nuclear power industry could meet a premature end, according to some observers. The Small Modula Reactor (SMR), touted as the next "new" design, is fading fast from view. The SMRs have faced funding challenges and competing energy sources and, because of their small size, have never been considered cost-effective. Boasts about improved safety also remain unproven. In fact, the cost reductions of the SMR could even compromise safety. According to a paper by Beyond Nuclear Advisory Board member, M.V. Ramana and his Princeton college, Zia Mian, the SMR cannot simultaneously address all of the shortcomings of nuclear power -- identified as poor economics, the possibility of catastrophic accidents, radioactive waste production, and linkage to nuclear weapon proliferation.
Scandal already surrounds the potential -- but now unlilkely -- development of the SMR at the Savannah River Site. Long-time anti-nuclear activist, Tom Clements of SRS Watch has exposed the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from an SRS environmental management fund into the SMR program.
The SMR also remains impractical in addressing climate change. Even the lowball estimate by the nuclear industry lobbying arm, Nuclear Energy Institute, poses a daunting picture with a $1 billion per reactor price tag and 10-year lead time on licensing and construction. By then, the climate could be in cardiac arrest and a small reactor will do nothing to save it. More.