TerraPower, the company who is currently building a Natrium Nuclear Reactor power plant in Kemmerer, has announced the project will likely be delayed at least two years. In a released statement, TerraPower said the delay is related to the unavailability of the nuclear fuel HALEU (High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium) due to the Russian war in Ukraine. The delay pushes the project completion date to 2030, instead of the previously planned 2028. According to the statement, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused the only commercial source of HALEU fuel to no longer be a viable part of the supply chain for TerraPower, as well as others in the industry.
TerraPower said the work slated to begin in Spring 2023 on the large sodium facility will continue as planned, and TerraPower expects minimal disruption to current projected start-of-construction date. They are still planning on a peak workforce of up to 2,000 workers in the Kemmerer area in the mid-2020s and currently have over 800 engineers finalizing plant design and engineering.
In response to the announcement U.S. Senator John Barraso (R-WY) stated that the “announcement underscores what I’ve been saying for years: America must reestablish itself as the global leader in nuclear energy. Instead of relying on our adversaries like Russia for uranium, the United State must produce its own supply of advanced nuclear fuel.” In his statement Barrasso said he has introduced legislation to “make this a reality and I’ve repeatedly called on the department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate and expand its efforts.”
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon stated that “The delay TerraPower is experiencing demonstrates how critical it is that our nation has domestic sources of uranium-it makes no sense to depend on Russia anymore. 10 months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and President Biden still doesn’t have a plan to secure domestic uranium. I am heartened by TerraPower’s commitment to their investment in Wyoming and plans to continue as scheduled with construction of the Natrium demonstration plant. In addition to hosting the Natrium demonstration plant, Wyoming is the major uranium producer in the United States and has taken necessary steps to establish agreement status with the NRC to ensure Wyoming does not get in the way of this project happening.”
SVI Media has reached out to TerraPower for additional comment and hopes to have further details on SVI Radio (Swift 98 and The Spur).