MU gets $1.8M for modular nuclear reactors

Oct 22, 2013

Credit University of Missouri

The Curators of the University of Missouri received a $1.8 million federal grant that will support research related to the production of small nuclear reactors (SMRs) at Ameren’s Callaway County plant in Fulton. The money came from a project called Make it in America Challenge, an initiative to create new jobs and encourage business in America.

MU is partnering with Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric Co. on this project. MU Extension spokesman Dave Schmidt said the final objective of the project with the grant money is to create more opportunities and create a supply chain that is functional, efficient and effective.

MU applied for the grant because they wanted to be able to provide technical assistance and education programs to the manufacturers of SMRs. MU plans for this to be a 3-year process. The project will advance a comprehensive training strategy to develop a high-skill, high-quality workforce for manufacturers in the nuclear power industry while assessing the education, training and certification needed to support the SMR effort.

Director of Economic Development for Ameren Missouri Micheal Kearney says he is very excited to team up with MU for this project, but some aren’t as happy about the grant. Safe Energy Director with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment Ed Smith says the risks that come with nuclear power aren't worth it.  

“Federal money going to programs that support nuclear power while the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still working to figure out how to store high-level nuclear waste from nuclear power plants seems very ill-conceived,” Smith said. 

Last year, Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse were denied federal funding from the U.S. Department of Energy that could have provided hundreds of millions of dollars for the project to build SMRs in Missouri.

Senator Claire McCaskill said in a press release that she is in full support of the production of SMRs and believes the grant to the university will provide the state with opportunities and resources that can lead to job creation.