Portland firm eyed for nuclear plant in Washington

SEATTLE – A legislative task force exploring the possibility of nuclear reactors in Washington state is preparing to visit an Oregon plant with a promising new product.

Task force chair Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, says NuScale is finding the answer to all the problems posed by nuclear power plants. The company, operating on a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, is producing Small Nuclear Reactors. They are much smaller, less expensive to construct and produce less waste.

"I'm excited about it," said Sheldon, who is a supporter of building nuclear reactors in the state again. "This is very safe technology and brings us new prospects for the future."

The eight-member task force is supposed to have recommendations for the full Legislature by Dec.1 about whether to invest in nuclear energy again.

Washington has one reactor: the Columbia Generating Station north of Richland which is owned and operated by Energy Northwest. The state has a troubled history when it comes to nuclear power.

Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) tried to build five reactors in Richland and Satsop in the 1970s and 1980s. But massive cost overruns led it to default on its construction bonds, and abandon the giant unfinished concrete structures.

Opponents to nuclear reactors say they are bad for the environment because there are few places to store the waste products.


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