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Environment

U.S. said to be falling behind in advanced nuclear reactor technology

by Jessica Morrison
March 13, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 11

The U.S. nuclear industry is lagging behind China, Russia, and others on advanced nuclear reactor technology because of regulatory hurdles, witnesses said last week at a Senate hearing. The U.S. is starting to cede its global leadership on nuclear energy, Ashley E. Finan, policy director of the research and advocacy group Nuclear Innovation Alliance, told the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee. With that leadership position goes “influence on nonproliferation discussions and on best practices and safety and on environmental issues globally,” Finan said at the panel’s hearing on the proposed Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act (S. 512). The bipartisan legislation, introduced earlier this month, is aimed at modernizing the U.S. nuclear regulatory process and revitalizing the nuclear industry sector, said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the committee’s chair. Barrasso, who introduced the bill, is concerned that advanced nuclear reactor technology in the U.S. faces “delays and costs from regulatory red tape.” The measure would require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to develop a series of steps for licensing non-light-water reactors.

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