Saturday, April 21, 2012

UM to support nuclear push

Hooray, Hoorah, M-I-Z-Z-O-U-R-A-H

JEFFERSON CITY — The University of Missouri, which came close to dismantling its Nuclear Science and Engineering Institute this year, will play a major support role for the Westinghouse-Ameren Missouri application for federal funds to develop small modular reactor technology. ~ this news is from The Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MO.

The full article by Rudi Keller and Janese Sukvey continues here: 

If the Missouri application is approved this summer, nuclear engineering programs on the Columbia and Rolla campuses would participate, officials from Westinghouse and Ameren said.

"As we see it, when you have a university system with such expertise in the nuclear area, you are going to leverage that," said Ameren CEO Warner Baxter. 

Westinghouse and Ameren intend to complete the reactor designs and install them as a demonstration at the Callaway Nuclear Plant site. Westinghouse representatives said the company intends to make small modular reactors, or SMRs, in Callaway County as well. 

"Having the university system there, able to train so many engineers but also having lots of research capability," will be a boost to the grant application, said Kate Jackson, senior vice president and chief technology officer for Westinghouse.

There was no mention yesterday of the administrative decision that almost closed the nuclear institute, a nearly 10-year-old graduate-level program once ranked No. 1 in the nation for faculty productivity.

On March 12, Graduate School Dean George Justice announced the institute would close to make way for a new interdisciplinary nuclear science program. Administrators have since reversed the decision, agreeing to keep NSEI open until at least all students complete the program. 

Sudarshan Loyalka, a curators' professor of nuclear engineering, said Ameren and Westinghouse's partnership should emphasize the need to strengthen NSEI rather than trying to start a completely new program.

"We do have a strong nuclear engineering program, and the program should be strengthened further with this opportunity," he said.

MU Chancellor Brady Deaton said after the announcement that he was still learning about the university's role. "We will be involved in the very beginning in the research and educational aspects of this," he said.

Area lawmakers said they see a long-term benefit that will give the university a much higher profile in nuclear science. "This could make them the No. 1 research entity in the world based on their role in designing and training on these units," Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said.

State Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, said in a news release that the emphasis demonstrates "the important role MU, our state research university, plays in the economy of the future."

Reach Rudi Keller at 573-815-1709 or e-mail
Reach Janese Silvey at 573-815-1705 or e-mail

This article was published on page A1 of the Friday, April 20, 2012 edition of The Columbia Daily Tribune. 

While I disagree with the move by this new consortium Westinghouse Electric - Ameren Missouri - State of Missouri - Missouri University, I will give them a tip of the hat for being ever so clever in the use of new tactics to extend the life of nuclear energy here in the state of Missouri and the World. I've read a lot of copy in the last couple of days and as usual no mention of the "elephant in room" - storage and permanent disposal of spent fuel. To the best of my knowledge spent fuel is still being generated on a daily basis from every working reactor in this world.

How can discussion continue to be about building new facilities, be it 1,000-megawatt or 250-megawatt, without one tiny little mention of how the nuclear waste is going to be handled? Or does this clever consortium already have a 'silent partner' looking very much like Harold Simmons, standing at the ready to take all this nuclear waste off their hands for a price?

Politics makes such strange bedfellows - but remember what mother always told you, be careful and ALWAYS practice safe nuclear policies.

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