Sherrard: Uranium could be a way forward

Sherrard: Uranium could be a way forward

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Editor:

The new uranium would provide a much needed rebirth to the state of Wyoming’s energy industry, a boost in employment, an unlimited supply of fuel and a much minimized carbon footprint. Ponder the articles and editorials in the major U.S. newspapers: Coal combustion for electrical generation is a dying industry, old technology, with very expensive capital costs for emission abatements; Medicine Bow and Shirley Basin have unlimited supplies of uranium for refining and fuel loading of nuclear reactors; oil companies are going bankrupt and requesting lower royalties from the BLM and deferral of city and county ad valorem taxes.

For Energy Secretary Brouillette’s vision of the future to come true, several fundamental changes need to occur in the regulations and management of nuclear power plants. Historically, nuclear power plants have been a cash drain on the utilities that build them, primarily due to the NRC constant “during construction changes” in design. In the future, nuclear power plants need to be an off-the-shelf design that is pre-approved by the NRC, resulting in rapid construction and startup for return on capital. The megawatt output can be ramped up by merely increasing the size of the reactor, turbines and cooling loops. The United States government needs to approve several nuclear waste repositories for disposal of the spent fuel rods that result from nuclear generation of electricity.

Having a common reactor design, a progressive NRC regulatory framework that favors nuclear energy and repositories for spent fuel rods, the United States’ carbon footprint would drastically be reduced. The 21st century is here, anyone watch the Falcon 9 launched and see the inside of the Dragon Capsule; it looks nothing like the analog designed Mercury and Gemini capsules of the middle 20th century. Let’s do the same Moon Shot for the nuclear industry.

JAMES H. SHERRARD, Plano, Texas

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