Nuclear Power Plant, Storage Bill Passes Wyoming Senate, Headed Back To House

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would adjust the state’s rules for regulating nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities, prepared in anticipation of the construction of a nuclear power plant near Kemmerer, cleared the Wyoming Senate on Thursday.

House Bill 131 passed the Senate on a vote of 16-13 and is now headed back to the House, where represenatives will be asked to approve any Senate changes to the bill.

The bill won final approval after Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, successfully proposed an a amendment to require a report from the state Department of Revenue on how much income the state would lose from tax exemptions provided for the developers of small nuclear power plants such as the Natrium plant proposed near Kemmerer.

Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, pointed out that no matter what amendments did pass on the bill, it was not going to make a difference to Wyoming’s tax revenue anytime soon.

“This is destined for years of litigation, based on the experience seen elsewhere in the country in recent years on nuclear projects,” Scott said.

Last summer, Gordon, joined by officials with TerraPower and Rocky Mountain Power, announced the Natrium plant, a “next generation” nuclear plant would be built in Wyoming by 2027 or 2028. The reactor is expected to generate 345 megawatts of power.

The proposed reactor would use technology developed by TerraPower, and would result in a smaller nuclear power plant than has previously been built, along with improved safety measures and a power storage system.

Earlier in the session, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, along with Reps. Karlee Provenza and Trey Sherwood, both D-Laramie, proposed an amendment to HB131 that would have required the plant to use as much Wyoming uranium as possible while prohibiting the use of Russian uranium.

The amendment failed.

TerraPower officials have said the plant can only use a type of uranium fuel rods made in Russia, although the company is working to cultivate other sources inside the United States.

The Natrium power plant will use fuel rods manufactured with HALEU metallic fluid. This uranium will allow the reactor to operate more efficiently and reduces the volume of waste produced.

In addition to trying to build up American producers of HALEU, TerraPower is investing in an American company to produce the fuel rods, Navin said.

According to project estimates, approximately 2,000 workers will be needed for plant construction at the project’s peak. Once the plant is operational, approximately 250 people will support day-to-day activities, including plant security.

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