Take a deep dive to learn more about small modular nuclear reactors.
ACT: Stop New Nuclear Reactors at Hanford
This is wild. A company, X-energy, wants to build more nuclear infrastructure—a small modular nuclear reactor—within a carve-out of the Hanford Nuclear Site. Bad idea. Period. Hanford is the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. government’s mission at Hanford: cleanup. More nuclear reactors run afoul of ongoing efforts to protect people and natural resources from Hanford’s nuclear legacy.
Today Columbia Riverkeeper released an in-depth report on small modular nuclear reactors and how the X-energy proposal threatens the Columbia River.
Top Three Reasons to Take Action:
- Stand in Solidarity: The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) opposes small modular reactor (SMR) development at Hanford. Check out CTUIR’s website to learn more about the Tribe and underlying reasons for opposition. In a letter to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, CTUIR explained, “The potential impacts of the project are enormous and visible over a much larger area.”
- Dangers from Nuclear Reactor Operations: High-temperature gas reactors, such as the Xe-100 design, are susceptible to “minor” failures that may trigger an accident. These failures, coupled with human error, can lead to large-scale disasters. In addition to technology-specific accidents, the site itself is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding that are capable of triggering a reactor accident.
- Threats from Nuclear Waste: SMRs, just like nuclear reactors currently in operation, produce nuclear waste. The waste stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, which creates a substantial burden on future generations. With no national geologic repository, this toxic and radioactive waste is stored on-site.
Call on Members of Congress and Governors Inslee and Brown to oppose new nuclear-energy development at Hanford.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Columbia Riverkeeper Report Sounds Alarm on Dangers of Siting New Nuclear Reactor at Hanford
Richland, WA (September 29, 2021)—Today, Columbia Riverkeeper released a hard-hitting report on the dangers of operating a new small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) at Hanford—already home to the largest nuclear cleanup in the United States. SMRs, like nuclear reactors currently in operation, produce nuclear waste, which stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. X-energy, the company behind the SMR proposal, wants to operate the region’s first high-temperature gas-cooled reactor at Energy Northwest’s campus north of Richland, WA, which is surrounded by the Columbia River and Hanford Nuclear Site.
“Adding more nuclear infrastructure—a small modular nuclear reactor—at Hanford without any long-term plan for the radioactive waste should be a nonstarter,” said Lauren Goldberg, legal and program director with Columbia Riverkeeper. “This report details the threats to people and the Columbia River from the latest nuclear-development project.”
The U.S. government chose the Hanford area for the Manhattan Project during World War II. Hanford is located within culturally significant lands of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Nez Perce Tribe, and the Wanapum people. For over 40 years, the United States produced plutonium for nuclear weapons, and released hundreds of billions of gallons of liquid chemical and radioactive waste into the soil and groundwater.
The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency, and Wash. Dept. of Ecology signed the Tri-Party Agreement in 1989 to ensure a comprehensive cleanup of Hanford. Decades of cleanup have occurred since the signing of the legally binding agreement. Still today, the U.S. government is trying and failing to prevent more radioactive releases into the soil and groundwater at Hanford.
“Nuclear waste stays radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years, which creates a substantial burden on future generations. A new nuclear reactor and its inevitable waste would further perpetuate the burden of cleanup,” says the report’s lead author, Miya Burke.
SMRs produce up to 300 MW-electric of power, are assembled in factories, and transported for on-site installation. In 2020, the DOE awarded X-energy $80 million in initial funding to build the Xe-100 reactor through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. On April 1, 2021, X-energy, Energy Northwest, and Grant County Public Utility District signed a memorandum of understanding to partner and support the development of the Xe-100 reactor.
Columbia Riverkeeper’s report shares perspectives on SMR development from Tribal Nations; risks of siting an SMR near the Columbia River’s renowned Hanford Reach; and the challenging economics of SMR development.
“People rely on the Columbia for clean water and strong salmon runs. We hope this report kicks off an overdue and robust public debate on X-energy’s plans to add more nuclear infrastructure and waste along the Columbia River,” said Goldberg.
To read the report, visit https://bit.ly/NewNuclearReport
About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to restore and protect the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Columbia Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization with over 16,000 members who live, work, and recreate throughout the Columbia River Basin. www.columbiariverkeeper.org
The Hanford Nuclear Site is the most contaminated place in the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. government’s mission at Hanford: cleanup. Now, X-energy wants to site more nuclear infrastructure—a small modular nuclear reactor—at Hanford. Bad idea. Period.