“New” nuclear energy is a false solution to the climate crisis

“New” nuclear energy presents the same old problems: too dirty, too costly and too late

The nuclear power industry would like you to believe that Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMNRs) are a magic bullet to solve the climate crisis. Don’t believe the hype. SMNRs are a false solution that divert funding from proven, renewable energy technologies that are safer, less expensive, and faster to deploy.

Despite major drawbacks to nuclear energy, the nuclear industry, propped up by the Inflation Reduction Act and other federal support, is recklessly plowing ahead with its wasteful spending to build new nuclear reactors, including near the Columbia River. We need your help to stop them. 

New Nuclear Reactors (and waste) at the Hanford Nuclear Cleanup Site? No Way!

people protesting in hazmat suits with a sign that says "don't turn the river into a wasteland"

After backing out of a similar plan a year ago, nuclear company X-energy, is back at it with a new plan to build SMNRs at the Hanford nuclear cleanup site near the Columbia River in Washington. At the same time, the US Dept. of Energy has announced that it will begin leasing land at Hanford for so-called “clean” energy projects that by its definition, includes nuclear energy production. Adding more nuclear waste to the Western Hemisphere’s most toxic cleanup site is a bad idea. In addition to adding more waste to the site, an accident at any of Hanford’s facilities could mean losing access to them all, making this an exceptionally unsafe location to site any new nuclear reactor. 

Oregon Nuclear Company’s Major Project Fails

Meanwhile, Oregon-based nuclear company, NuScale, recently pulled the plug on its plans to build SMNRs at Idaho National Laboratories near the Snake River, when a consortium of small Utah utilities who were backing the project saw the writing on the wall and backed out from the project.  NuScale’s stock has plunged and it has laid off at least 28% of its staff. Notably, the project was seven years behind schedule and had doubled its price tag. 

Why Small Modular Nuclear Reactors are a Big Problem

  • They pollute and burden Tribal communities. While the nuclear industry claims to be “clean,” it is an extremely dirty technology, beginning with uranium mining which decimates Indigenous lands. SMNRs produce two to thirty times the radioactive waste of older nuclear designs, waste for which we have no national repository. Any community that hosts a nuclear reactor will likely be saddled with its waste—forever. This harm falls disproportionately on Indigenous communities.
  • They are too costly and take too long to come online. Nuclear energy now costs five times more than renewable energy options such as solar and wind, and nuclear projects are notorious for delays and cost overruns. 
  • They are dangerous. SMNRs sited at Hanford would be vulnerable to earthquakes, floods, and fires which may lead to nuclear accidents. An accident at any one Hanford facility could mean losing access to them all. We can’t afford this risk to the Columbia River.