INL kicks off Nuclear Science Week with Big Event

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Panelists discuss advancing nuclear energy. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho National Laboratory kicked off its annual Nuclear Science Week with their ‘Big Event’ Friday.

It featured panelists from universities, energy companies, environmentalist groups and scientists from around the world.

A representative from NuScale Power, the energy start-up behind the small modular reactors that will be brought to Idaho, spoke about the potential benefits of SMRs.

Jose Reyes, NuScale Chief Technology Officer, told EastIdahoNews.com the company’s goal is to provide advanced nuclear technology that will improve the quality of life for people around the world.

“We saw the tremendous need worldwide and we saw where nuclear energy could actually provide for those needs,” Reyes said.

During the different panel discussion, one question was asked multiple times: What about safety?

Sarah Spath, environmentalist and director of east coast operations for Mothers for Nuclear, said she was nervous about nuclear energy as an environmentalist she did not want to have anything to do with coal or natural gas.

When interviewing for a job at a nuclear power plant, she asked how much radiation she had been exposed to there.

She was shown a graphic that claimed she would receive less radiation working at a power plant on year than the amount received when taking an airplane flight.

“Things like that changed my mind,” Spath said. “Things that were comparative – things that showed a digestible balance between things that I was used to and comfortable with and things that I thought were scary.”

Reyes also addressed the question of safety in regard to SMRs. He said the modular reactor’s design allows it to shut itself down if power is lost and without anyone there. That makes the reactor safe in the case of emergency or natural disaster.

Nuclear Science Week Continues with the Family Nuclear Science Night at the INL Meeting Center in Idaho Falls tonight beginning at 5 p.m.

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