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‘Perception of Nuclear Progress’ presentation at Casper College postponed until at least spring 2022

Dry storage casks at Idaho National Laboratory can safely house spent nuclear fuel for decades, the U.S. Department of Energy says. (DOE/INL)

CASPER, Wyo. — A presentation titled “Perceptions of Nuclear Progress” that had been scheduled to take place at Casper College on December 7 has been postponed, according to the college.

“The Zeta Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Casper College, sponsors of the event, hope to reschedule the presentation during the spring 2022 semester,” the college states.

The presentation had been set to discuss the Natrium nuclear reactor that is expected to be built in Wyoming. TerraPower announced this November that Kemmerer is the preferred site for the construction of the new nuclear reactor.

Dr. Glen Hansen, an adjunct engineering instructor at Casper College, had been set to discuss the Natrium reactor during the presentation and discuss the science behind nuclear reactors. Safety issues were also set to be discussed during the presentation.

Hansen previously managed the Computational Multiphysics Department at Sandia National Laboratories. Casper College adds that he also led development of computational nuclear engineering software at Idaho National Laboratory and was a deputy group leader in X-Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The presentation had been set to conclude with a Q&A session moderated by Casper College Political Science Instructor Erich Frankland.

When Governor Mark Gordon announced this June that Wyoming had been selected for the construction of a new “advanced” nuclear reactor, he said it would be “game-changing and monumental” for Wyoming.

The Natrium system was co-developed by TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

Proponents tout the Natrium reactor as “advanced” technology, with TerraPower claiming it can offer “improved reactor economics, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced safety and lower volumes of waste.” The Union of Concerned Scientists, on the other hand, has expressed some hesitation in regard to the rosy picture TerraPower and other players in the field of new nuclear technology have been painting.

In a March 2021 report titled “‘Advanced’ Isn’t Always Better: Assessing the Safety, Security, and Environmental Impacts of Non-Light-Water Nuclear Reactors,” the Union of Concerned Scientists points to a number of potential problems in regard to claims about new “advanced” nuclear technology.

The issue of whether the Natrium reactor would actually be an improvement on existing nuclear technology is explored further in this article.