Ohio Firm Wants to Place Nuclear Reactor Underground

Thursday, 26 Jul 2012 11:03 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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An Ohio energy company wants to buy and install a small nuclear reactor underground somewhere in its service area.
FirstEnergy Corp., a multi-state company based in Akron, hasn’t committed to actually buying the power-generating reactor, but has signed an agreement to study how it would be installed at least 140 feet below ground, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The reactor, which would be purchased through Charlotte, N.C.-based Babcock & Wilcox Co., would cost an estimated $2 billion compared to an estimated $15 for a large, above ground reactor. Putting it underground, the Plain Dealer reported, would also make it safer as well.
According to the newspaper, Babcock and Wilcox, which is already working on two reactors for the Tennessee Valley Authority, plans to submit a finished design for the FirstEnergy reactor to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of next year.

While licensing could take several more years, the NRC is already preparing to weigh in on a number of other competing designs from different companies for smaller reactors.
The model FirstEnergy is interested in would generate about 180 megawatts compared to  compared to the 900 to 1,300 megawatts that the company’s older reactors generate now.
B&W is already working with the Tennessee Valley Authority for two of the reactors, but other companies, including Westinghouse, are working on small reactor designs as well.

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