Ben Heard: “We must be a full-service provider to the nuclear back-end”
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A molten salt reactor would provide a simpler and more efficient pathway if the priority goal was getting rid of the existing long-lived material without any net increase in fuel material. With regard to this class of technology, I table a media release from September this year from Terrestrial Energy, notifying their invitation and intention to apply for a loan guarantee of between $800 million to $1.2 billion to support financing of a project to license, construct and commission the first US IMSR® Advanced Nuclear power plant, a 190 MWe commercial facility. For the purposes of disclosure, I sit on the Environmental and Sustainability Advisory Board of Terrestrial Energy. This is an unpaid, non-executive position.
Those two reactor options could certainly co-exist, and they could also co-exist with a geological disposal facility. So while it may well turn out that a geological disposal facility is indeed required, being active in the development of these other pathways could well influence our decisions regarding:
1. The best size of the geological facility
2. The best location for the facility
3. The right depth of the facility
4. The right operational practices for the facility
Of these additional options, the recycling facility is relatively little additional investment, in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and naturally provides outstanding skilled employment via the annual operations budgets. It also delivers very valuable product through those operations.