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Romania to work with NuScale on small nuclear power reactors

Romania will partner with American company NuScale Power to build small nuclear reactors as part of its efforts to boost low-emission power sources, the White House said on Tuesday.

The European Union state uses a mix of gas, coal, hydro, nuclear and renewable energy to generate electricity. But many of its generation plants are decades old and need to be refurbished or replaced.

The country’s sole nuclear power producer, state-owned Nuclearelectrica, currently has two 706-megawatt reactors, which account for roughly a fifth of Romania’s power.

The company plans to add two more reactors. In 2020, it signed an agreement with U.S. construction and engineering firm AECOM which will lead an $8 billion project to add two reactors at Romania’s nuclear power plant on the river Danube and refurbish one of its existing units.

“The United States and Romania will announce today plans to build a ‘first-of-a-kind’ small modular reactor (SMR) plant in Romania in partnership with U.S. NuScale Power, bringing the latest civil nuclear technology to a critical part of Europe,” the White House said.

The agreement will include a 12-module NuScale plant, it said.

Romania is one of several EU states which have jointly pushed for including nuclear energy in the bloc’s sustainable finance rules.

The countries have long sought for nuclear to be included as a way to reach the EU’s climate goals, with the recent spike in energy costs, especially for gas, adding weight to the debate.

Source: Luiza Ilie – REUTERS


In March 2020, a panel of independent experts from the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) found several potential flaws in NuScale’s reactor design.

The main issue was that in the event of an emergency shutdown condensed steam returning to the reactor vessel would be low in boron and might not absorb enough neutrons from the reactor.

NuScale modified its design to ensure that more boron would spread to the returning water. The ACRS was still concerned that operators could accidentally add deboronated water to the core. The panel found a few more problems, such as that the steam generator could be prone to damaging vibrations. However, on 29 July the ACRS still recommended that the safety evaluation report be issued and that the reactor be certified.

Edwin Lyman, a physicist from the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the flaws in the design have damaged NuScale’s credibility and that “This is a case of the public relations driving the science instead of the other way around”.