The Department of Energy is awarding more than $1.6 million to the Nuclear Alternative Project in Puerto Rico.
NAP is seeking the best sites for small nuclear reactors on the Island. The first stage of the project was to determine whether small nuclear reactors would be feasible for Puerto Rico. Having determined that this is a workable option, NAP will use the new grant funding to conduct site suitability analysis.
The company has identified two possibilities, one of which is the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. The other is in the North, near Manati. Researchers will consider many factors, including geology and seismology, weather, population effects, noise, aesthetics, environmental impact, and security.
Why nuclear energy?
Energy costs in Puerto Rico can be twice as high as in the states. Electricity provision has also been less stable in Puerto Rico, with power outages affecting homes and businesses across the Island. Since the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has been working to repair and improve electrical systems with a network of microgrids.
While the plan to build microgrids across the Island relies heavily on solar power, NAP’s first stage research concluded that solar power alone will not be able to handle Puerto Rico’s anticipated demand for electric power.
Adding nuclear power to the mix will meet demand without carbon emissions. Since Puerto Rico is particularly susceptible to climate change — the ferocity of Hurricane Maria is thought to have been the result of warming trends in the ocean — it is important to focus on renewable energy.
Nuclear power is clean and cost-effective, proponents say, and would provide practical solutions to Puerto Rico’s energy challenges.
However, the territory had a nuclear reactor for three years in the 1960s, and had to decommission it because of technical difficulties. The Island didn’t have the funds to keep the Boiling Nuclear Superheater Reactor Facility up to date and safe.
It was placed on the Register of Historic Places in 2007. Some people in Puerto Rico are still skeptical of nuclear power.
NAP, a nonprofit, hopes to demonstrate that nuclear energy can be a positive option for Puerto Rico.
Neither in favor, nor against nuclear electricity, but few naive questions /concerns:
1- Will the EPA collaborate in this study?
2- PR has a poor track record with maintenance of its infrastructure.
Will maintenance cost of a nuclear reactor be included in study, with technology upgrades needed?
Where will the maintenance funds come from? Local or Federal? Long or short term funds assignment? Who will have the ultimate responsibility- local or federal?
3- How will local agriculture, beaches, and the “fauna and flora” of “ El Yunque” be affected if a nuclear incident in Roosevelt road plant location? What will be affected in Manatí? -home of Mar Chiquita, Los tubos, cueva de las golondrinas and a first class Hospital.
4- If a nuclear incident, how quickly can Citizens be informed and evacuated?
Where will they go? For how long? Who will be financially responsible for their personal property and/ or home losses?
5- How bad an incident if it coincides with Sahara dust? – now so often present in PR. Will dust make radiation stay longer in the area?
6- Security cost to protect plant? Who will fund? How much money needed?
Will the protection of the plant be local or under Federal Jurisdiction?
7- What non nuclear electricity options truly being considered? Cost of these versus Nuclear? Short and long term – who will fund?
8- Seismic concerns part of study. Will Tsunami / ocean rise concerns also part of study with plant construction?
9- If an incident, How will electricity be impacted? For how long?
Will their be a back up plan, if nuclear reactor fails?
10- Personal needed for plant operation- expertise, fair and competitive salaries, who will fund? Local or federal?
11- Administrative nuclear Board separate from other PR energy sources? Jurisdiction- local, federal, International? – Political? Non- Political?
The study will focus in the following tasks utilizing NRC Reg Guide 4.7:
•Geology and Seismology
•Atmospheric Extremes and Dispersion
•Exclusion Area and Low Population Zone
•Industrial, Military, and Transportation Services
•Ecological Systems and Biota
•Land Use and Aesthetics
•SMR Site Rankings
•Microreactor Sites Rankings
•PPE Evaluations and Updated Rankings
We wont answer all the questions you have in this comment with this study but you can send any question to the following email :
You can also look at our website:
Thank you so much for your reply and references.
The study Syllabus seems comprehensive in terms of the nuclear reactor’s development, construction and operation itself.
My concerns are with the citizens and environmental impact, to ensure PR is prepared to handle any potential major problems. The old motto: Hope for the best, prepared for the worst.
In addition, to the study outlined, there should be a concomitant analysis of nuclear emergency responses. Not only, in terms of the plant itself, but, Puerto Rico’s first responders preparedness/ expertise with nuclear injures, evacuations, equipment needs, and timeframe of outside help to reach PR- if necessary.
For this technology to be successful and appropriately handle, there needs to be a serious administrative government commitment. It must include: definitive funds assignment – short and long term -unaltered by politics, attention to detail, no maintenance financial shortcuts, leadership clarification of responsibilities including public and private sectors obligations.
Simple example- health care coverage of potential radiation exposure – private? Government?.
The multiple areas of citizens and environmental services that may be needed, should have their say and clarify issues before they arise.
Lastly, the nuclear plant security cost from development, to operational, and beyond, cannot be underestimated, nor should be shortchanged.
I completely agree with you. Our organization is educating and studying the posible integration of these technologies in a near future. The topics you are talking about should be part of any future development process. Puerto Rico needs to have a nuclear energy culture and it will take time. That’s why we are integrating the universities and communities in our education.
Cohesiveness with preparation, execution, respect to all shareholders, can certainly result in a positive outcome.
The subject is too important and serious to be taken lightly.
Thank you for your time and educational efforts.
How about Vieques another island 🏝 right next to Puerto Rico that belongs to Puerto Rico but less populated