Gordon: New Nuclear Reactor Needs To Run on Wyoming, Not Russian, Uranium

Wyoming needs a domestic source of uranium to supply a proposed nuclear reactor near Kemmerer, Gov. Mark Gordon said Monday.

Ellen Fike

March 14, 20222 min read

Gordon presser 3 14 22

Wyoming needs a domestic source of uranium to supply a proposed nuclear reactor near Kemmerer, Gov. Mark Gordon said Monday.

TerraPower, the company planning to install a small nuclear reactor in Kemmerer, told Cowboy State Daily last month that it has no choice but to fuel its plant with nuclear fuel rods from Russia, but officials said they are also working to cultivate domestic uranium sources.

Such a domestic source could be converted into a “wonderful” source of energy while reducing waste, Gordon said.

“Currently our nuclear resources come from Russia, and we need to make sure that we have a domestic source of uranium just like we used to,” he said. “We’re very anxious to see the project move forward. We’re really hoping that this helps to revitalize Wyoming’s very important uranium industry.”

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.

On Monday, TerraPower officials announced that the company received a federal $8.5 million grant to support research into a method to recover uranium from used nuclear fuel.

TerraPower officials have said the plant will only be able to use a type of uranium fuel rod 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, officials 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.

TerraPower did not immediately return Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Monday.

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Ellen Fike