February 1, 2022

Bill to help build small nuclear reactors in Indiana passes Senate

A model showing the difference in size between small modular nuclear reactors and a traditional nuclear plant. - (Idaho National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy)

A model showing the difference in size between small modular nuclear reactors and a traditional nuclear plant.

(Idaho National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy)

A bill that would make it easier for smaller, more advanced nuclear power plants to be built in Indiana passed in the state Senate on Tuesday.

The bill's co-author, Sen. Blake Doriot (R-Goshen), said these plants provide reliable, clean power — and their small size makes them cheaper and safer.

“These are not the power plants that we grew up with,” Doriot said.

But opponents of SB 271 said small modular nuclear reactors are a risky investment for the state. None of the planned modular nuclear reactors have been built yet and many have gone over their proposed budgets — some by billions of dollars.

READ MORE: Bill paves the way for small nuclear reactors. But are they a financial and safety risk?

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Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) said the fact that ratepayers would have to foot the bill for these projects is concerning.

“This is a question of who is going to pay and for quite some time and before any project has ever come to fruition," she said.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has also questioned the safety of the plants. It said the nuclear industry has sometimes used the plant’s smaller size to justify cutting back on safety equipment and staff as well as shrink the area that would be told to evacuate in a disaster.

The bill now moves on to the House for consideration.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

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