Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMRs) not really safe

nuClear News August 14, “…..Safety of SMRs
:…….The safety of the proposed compact designs is unproven—for instance, most of the designs call
for weaker containment structures. And the arguments in favour of lower overall costs for SMRs
depend on convincing the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to relax existing safety
regulations. The Fukushima accident has resulted in new safety requirements for existing and
new reactors around the world. So the challenge is to lower the cost of nuclear reactor systems
while increasing their levels of safety and security. (9)
Proponents also point out that smaller reactors are inherently less dangerous than larger ones.
While this is true, it is misleading, because small reactors generate less power than large ones,
and therefore more of them are required to meet the same energy needs. Multiple SMRs may
actually present a higher risk than a single large reactor, especially if plant owners try to cut
costs by reducing support staff or safety equipment per reactor.
Because of SMRs’ alleged safety advantages, proponents have called for shrinking the size of the
emergency planning zone (EPZ) surrounding an SMR plant from the current standard of 10
miles (in the USA) to as little as 1000 feet, making it easier to site the plants near population
centres and in convenient locations such as former coal plants and military bases. However, the
lessons of Fukushima, in which radiation levels high enough to trigger evacuation or long-term
settlement were measured at as much as 20 to 30 miles from the accident, suggest that these
proposals, which are based on assumptions and models that have yet to be tested in practice,
may be overoptimistic.
Union of Concerned Scientists  argues that promoting the idea that SMRs do not require 10-mile emergency planning
zones and encouraging the NRC to weaken other safety requirements just to facilitate SMR
licensing and deployment is not the way forward. (10)……..

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