Company Building Nuke Plant in Kemmerer Now Says They Won’t Use Russian Uranium

TerraPower, the company installing a nuclear power plant in Kemmerer, announced Friday that it will not be using Russian uranium to power its plant and will be investing in the domestic supply chain for its fuel.

Ellen Fike

March 18, 20223 min read

Nuke power plant part 2
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy Statev Daily

The company installing a nuclear power plant in Kemmerer will not be using Russian uranium, company officials told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

Earlier this month, officials said they initially would be using uranium imported from Russia, although this was not an ideal situation for them.

This is not the case any longer, TerraPower director of external affairs Jeff Navin told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

“We will not be using Russian uranium in the Natrium reactor in Wyoming,” Navin said. “TerraPower is actively investing in the domestic supply chain for its fuel and working with elected leaders to develop more support for American enrichment. This work is having a positive effect in Congress and we will continue to work on this urgent issue.”

Earlier this month, Navin said that the company was in a problematic situation, as the only facility that can produce commercial quantities of high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) is owned and operated by Tenex and Russia.

“Recognizing this gap in the supply chain, last year, TerraPower allocated funds within the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program proposal … to help create an American competitor to Tenex, and we are working with Congress and the Department of Energy to expedite the development of domestic enrichment capability,” Navin said.

“This investment has helped support the only facility in the United States currently licensed to produce HALEU, although they do not yet have the capability to produce HALEU at commercial levels,” he said.

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.

This week, Wyoming’s delegation spoke out against the United States’ reliance on Russian energy, including uranium.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney told Wyoming reporters on Wednesday that she was working on legislation that would ban the import of Russian uranium.

According to the Wyoming Mining Association, Wyoming has around 450 million pounds of uranium in reserves, although the resource varies in price. About one pound of uranium can produce the same amount of power as 20,000 pounds of coal.

The Natrium power plant, a “next generation” nuclear plant, is expected to generate 345 megawatts of power.

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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Ellen Fike