Guest opinion from PST SMR Committee chairman published in the Post Register (Oct. 12, 2016)

Small Modular Reactor Project Is Good for Idaho

Partnership for Science and Technology independently assessed the proposed UAMPS project

in Eastern Idaho

Steve Laflin is a member of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for Science & Technology, and is the lead of the SMR review committee. He is also president and CEO of International Isotopes, Inc.


The Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) proposed Carbon-Free Power Project looks like a good deal for Eastern Idaho. The proposed project is on the correct path to providing a safe and environmentally responsible power plant that will offer economic benefit and bolster the reliability of our regional energy grid.

Says who? The Partnership for Science and Technology (PST) — a non-profit organization that works to independently examine and promote responsible energy technologies and environmental stewardship to benefit Idaho and the region. The PST recently completed an initial review of the planned NuScale design for the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) proposed by UAMPS. The CFPP would be located within the boundaries of the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory Site, but will be licensed and regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Based upon our initial review, the PST supports UAMPS moving forward with this project.

The CFPP aims to demonstrate the viability of developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) as a part of a long-range energy portfolio to mitigate the loss of aging coal plants, anticipated to begin retiring in 2025. The carbon free electricity produced by this project will complement variable generation from local wind and solar projects and regional hydro-electric generation, including that of Idaho Falls Power.

PST independently evaluated much of the currently available information on reactor operations, electricity generation, environmental impacts, safety, security and socio-political issues. The information gathered from this review has been posted on the PST website (www.P-S-T.org) in the form of responses to frequently asked questions. 

PST’s position is that the CFPP has all the elements of a safe and environmentally responsible project. From the information available to date, the project offers promise for benefiting Idaho’s economy and boosting the reliability of the entire region’s energy grid. Since this is a nuclear project, there are certain to be groups opposing the CFPP. Groups that reject nuclear power without offering viable alternates to replace baseload coal plants are unrealistic. While the PST respects all organizations looking out for the welfare of the community and the environment, we must all be diligent in our evaluation and accurate in our assessment of the technology’s risks and benefits. Our future energy mix and our need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions should not be taken lightly. These types of projects must be evaluated in a responsible manner with the ultimate objective of finding solutions to our long term energy needs.

The PST encourages everyone to objectively evaluate the CFPP project, starting with the extensive information complied on the PST website, and decide for yourself the safety and value of this important project.

Posted on November 11, 2016 .

NuScale Small Modular Reactor Position Statement

The Partnership for Science and Technology (PST) has completed its initial in-depth review of the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) proposed for Southeast Idaho. This Utah Association of Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) project aims to demonstrate the viability of developing Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) to assist in mitigating the anticipated loss of aging coal plants in 2025. PST’s review was based on currently available information on the CFPP and SMRs, and with additional consideration given to Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations governing the design, safe operating requirements and environmental considerations of new commercial nuclear reactors.

As a result of this extensive review, the PST’s position is that the SMR technology holds clear promise for cleanly and safely addressing the long-term base load energy needs in the region, and that the proposed CFPP should be supported by the state and affected communities.

There is a significant amount of additional detailed information that will be developed and provided in the future to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the general public as a part of the NuScale design application and the UAMPS construction and operating license application. The PST will continue to review as this additional information becomes available, and will provide future updates on CFPP’s progress on adequately addressing safety, environmental and economic issues.

For additional information concerning the PST’s analysis leading to this conclusion, please refer to the Executive Summary and Frequently Asked Questions prepared by the PST’s SMR review committee found here.

Posted on October 7, 2016 .

Up n' Atom Breakfast Radio Broadcast

At 7 p.m. Monday, a local radio station will air Mark Peters' address at the recent Partnership for Science & Technology Up 'n Atom Breakfast. Those who are interested but were unable to attend can hear his talk on FM station 91.1 (Pocatello), 91.3 (Idaho Falls) or 88.1 (Rexburg).

PST is a local science and technology advocacy group. On Aug. 25, it hosted an Up 'n Atom Breakfast to introduce its members to Laboratory Director Mark Peters. Peters outlined his vision for INL's future. Discussion topics included INL's role in the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN), regional innovation in clean energy systems and the Cybercore Integration Center for cyber/physical security innovation. A Q&A at the end touched on a variety of topics.

What: Broadcast of Mark Peters community talk

When: 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5

Where: KISU, FM station 91.1 (Pocatello), 91.3 (Idaho Falls) or 88.1 (Rexburg)


Posted on August 30, 2016 .

Intermountain Energy Summit

The 3rd Annual 2016 Intermountain Energy Summit took place Aug. 9-10, 2016 in Idaho Falls. The summit was a complete success. Idaho Falls mayor Rebecca Casper helped host the envent which featured among other speakers, NPR’s host and producer of Living on Earth, Steve Curwood, and second day keynote speaker Michael Shellenberger, founder of Environmental Progress.

John Kotek, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, Mark Peters, director of the Idaho National Laboratory, Maria Korsnick, COO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, as well as Rep. Mike Simpson, U.S. Representative and Chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Water and Energy, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, and Gov. Butch Otter also gave powerful presentations and answered questions.

The summit featured many other policy makers and community leaders. It focused on clean energy sources such as nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, and other coal alternatives, as well as the latest innovations in energy storage and new technology. 

Posted on August 18, 2016 .

The City of Idaho Falls and Partnership for Science & Technology hosts contractor appreciation Reception

The City of Idaho Falls and Partnership for Science & Technology have joined to put together a contractor reception on May 31, 2016 from 5:30-7:00p.m. at the Art Museum of Eastern Idaho, 300 S. Capital Avenue, Idaho Falls. 

CH2M-WG Idaho and Idaho Treatment Group have performed an outstanding job operating the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Complex and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project for several years. The reception is being held to express appreciation for their hard work and dedication as Flour Idaho prepares to take over operations.

"I believe this event will offer a unique view of the breadth and overall magnitude of our contractor's accomplishments over the last several years." said Rebecca Casper, the Mayor of Idaho Falls. "I invite the community to join me in celebrating their significant commitment to creating a better Idaho."

The Department of Energy, State of Idaho, City of Idaho Falls, and Partnership for Science and Technology will all be represented at the event. Community leaders will express their appreciation and gratitude towards the companies that have made the Idaho Clean Up project possible at INL for the past decade. 

Photo: Idaho Falls

Photo: Idaho Falls

Posted on May 27, 2016 .

Up n' Atom Breakfast

Ted Rampton with the Utah Associated Municipal Power System speaking at the  Up 'n Atom Breakfast this morning concerning the Carbon Free Power Project utilizing Small Modular Reactor technology.

Posted on May 3, 2016 .

PST's Deliberative Approach to Advocacy

By Richard Holman

Recently our community received news that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Utah Associated Municipal Power System (UAMPS) reached an agreement on a site use permit. This permit allows UAMPS to evaluate the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory site for construction of a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor. Interestingly, before the ink was even dry, the public was seeing and hearing opinions and assumptions based on incorrect information. Such an important opportunity requires an essentially different approach to fact-finding and communication.

Small Modular Reactors (SMR) are not a new concept. NuScale has been working on its design for more than a decade, which proves the point that this is not simple or easy technology. First-of-a-kind technologies face numerous hurdles that range from bureaucratic to financial, some political and many technical. It is complex business that requires skepticism, discussion, evaluation, critical thinking, and, above all else, excellent communication.

The Partnership for Science and Technology is a regional, member-funded group comprised of scientific and engineering firms, large and small businesses, community leaders, unions, environmentalists, academics and elected officials. The PST Board of Directors is heavily complemented with scientists and engineers. In light of recent events, I have established an SMR Committee to study all aspects of the SMR siting opportunity. This committee is weighted even more so with top technical talent.

This SMR Committee is charged with independently reviewing and evaluating the site use permit, the proposed technology and the potential impacts and issues associated with the project. This will involve study of the technical and other reports, project briefings and engaging in the many public processes that stand between the proposal and final construction. Our goal is simple; we want to see science and technology advanced with care, knowledge and thoughtful community engagement. This begins with considerate study and evaluation rather than conjecture and speculation.

As UAMPS and NuScale each apply for NRC licenses, we must exert competent technical awareness of the full range of opportunities, risks and issues. PST and its members will study and participate, as appropriate, to ensure the process rests on scientifically credible facts and good engineering analysis. PST's independent technical representatives from our own communities will ensure our regional interests are safely furthered.

PST does not shy away from its stated mission as a technology advocacy group, but if you have ever met a scientist or engineer, you likely know that they ask a lot of hard questions and aren't easily satisfied with simple answers. PST will dive deep, ask hard questions, evaluate real data, and participate with informed expertise. We will share what we learn with the public in straight forward, easy to understand terms. This information will be provided to all of our communities making sure the public discussion is informed and deliberative. We will also respectfully engage with those of differing opinions when it comes to nuclear solutions but we will insist on public policy decisions based on facts, science and solid engineering principles above all else. If you want to join the discussion or support this reasoned approach to citizen involvement in this important opportunity, now is an excellent time to join PST.

Posted on March 10, 2016 .

Department of Energy Continues Commitment to the Development of Innovative Small Modular Reactors

By Corinne Dionisio

The Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to back a small modular reactor (SMR) project that would take place within the DOE's Idaho National Laboratory site. Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) has been granted a Site Use Permit within the Idaho National Laboratory site (INL). SMR technology promises a safer, cheaper, and cleaner alternative to energy production.

"As the nation's lead nuclear energy laboratory, Idaho National Laboratory has a vision of the vital role that nuclear energy must play as part of the future clean energy system." Mark Peters, INL director said about the site permit. "INL served a crucial role in the development of nuclear power and now plays a key role in the advancement and commercialization of next generation reactors. INL and our sister national laboratories are providing direct technical support to companies like NuScale Power, LLC. as part of the design and licensing process and are ready to provide the expertise and infrastructure to commercialize small modular reactors (SMRs) as a clean energy option.

Today's announcement marks an exciting time for nuclear energy as the world looks at this essential component to address risks presented by a changing climate. Nuclear energy will continue to play a vital role of the future national - and global - energy systems. INL stands ready to support this important national role."

The specific site of UAMPS's Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) will be chosen by carefully considering locations that allow the preservation of environmental, historic, and cultural resources. In addition, because the site will be within INL boundaries it must not interfere with any of the labs projects. Once the site is selected the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will inspect and carefully review the area. Building the new SMR reactors will commence following NRC approval. The reactors will be based on the SMR designs developed by NuScale Power TM. For more information please visit the DOE link provided below.

Department of Energy Continues Commitment to the Development of Innovative Small Modular Reactors

Posted on February 18, 2016 .

Senate Joins House in Supporting Innovation in Advanced Reactors

Last Thursday the senate showed bipartisan support for The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (S 2461). The bill is an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S 2012) and could remain active even if the larger bill is rejected. Idaho legislature played a vital role in getting the bill to where it is today. The bill will enable the Department of Energy to work with and to prioritize research from the private sector. 

This is great news for Idaho. The Idaho National Laboratory has long been a pioneer of nuclear innovation since its inception. Idaho is arleady home to many technological firsts. For example, the first nuclear reactor to produce usable electricity and the first Navy reactor prototypes were both designed and developed at DOE's INL site. This new legislature would allow the lab to further advance nuclear technology in ways that would benefit the region, the environment, and the world. For more information please click the link below.

Senate Joins House in Supporting Innovation in Advanced Reactors

Posted on February 8, 2016 .