Nuclear Regulation

April 26, 2019

by John McClaughry

If you’re interested in learning why the United States is lagging far back in developing safe, efficient, modular nuclear reactors, look no further than the ordeal of NuScale, an Oregon startup company that has been trying to get licensed for twelve years by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In 2007 Dr. Jose Reyes of NuScale entered the regulatory black hole at the NRC. One after another the company met a series of regulatory deadlines for their design. In January 2015 the company announced that it had met the 2014 deadline. Somebody asked how long it would be before the NRC replied to the submission. The answer: Thirty nine months! Over three years of waiting! In April 2018 NRC approved, for a working prototype to be tested in 2027.

That means twenty years will have elapsed just to the working prototype stage, with not one dollar of revenues to reduce the twenty year cost of building the prototype and flipping the on switch. And if the engineers think up a great new modification, they have to get that approved, requiring even more years.

I have been saying for years that the coming breakthrough in Generation Four nuclear power may be designed by Americans, or not, but it will be licensed,  built and put online  in some other country, like China or India or even South Africa.

Nuclear safety is important, but this is horrendous bureaucratic constipation, and America is paying dearly for it.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

William Hays April 27, 2019 at 1:47 am

I, truly, believe that “Generation Four Nuclear” is the answer to our electricity problem. I give it ‘zero chance’ of being recognized as such by the Luddites, Progressives, and the PC loons. Wouldn’t it be nice if the infrastructure at Vermont Yankee was retro-fitted with Gen-4 and it could consume all the nuclear waste, as fuel, that is ensconced there? Win-win, methinks.


Carol D. April 27, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Frankly, I am just marveling over Mr. McClaughry’s most accurate description of how government operates. “Bureaucratic constipation”. Nowhere have I ever read or heard a more precise description of the manner with which our government conducts its daily activities. It explains the ‘why’ government requires so many employees. Private businesses would go broke trying to support the number of employees the government seems to require. But wait,……………………..isn’t that what is happening with our trillions of dollars of debt?


Robert April 29, 2019 at 5:06 pm

Good point about government workers, and Vermont has one of the highest number of state employees per capita. But what sensible politician would dare state a state workforce reduction is in order? One who did not want to be elected, or reelected after he or she was visited with the ensuing excoriation by countless bloated government proponents. Just think about the irony of the theater when the federal government “shuts down.” You’d never even notice it was shut down if it weren’t for the mudslinging blame-festival between the political parties.


Robert Hargraves April 27, 2019 at 11:23 pm

John, check out our refreshed web site, especially Indonesia page.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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