07.02.2019_No27 / News in Brief

Trump Plans For Domestic Uranium Quota ‘Could Put Nuclear Industry At Risk’

Uranium & Fuel

7 Feb (NucNet): A Trump administration proposal to set quotas on domestic uranium could put the country’s nuclear power sector at risk, the US Nuclear Energy Institute said, according to reports.

According to US News and World Report the administration is reportedly considering an import quota that would require US uranium mining firms to provide a quarter of the domestic market. The Commerce Department began exploring the idea last year, citing national security concerns. However, critics of the proposal point out that much of the country’s uranium is supplied by close US allies: Canada and Australia.

A quota is strongly opposed by the country’s nuclear power sector, which operates 98 reactors across the country. The NEI warned that a 25% quota would cause uranium prices to soar and force some reactors offline.

“A typical single unit nuclear plant employs between 500 and 700 workers in jobs that pay, on average, 36% above the prevailing local wage rate,” the NEI said in a statement. “To put that in perspective, the closure of one plant would lead to a loss of more jobs than in the entire US uranium mining industry.”

The NEI said nuclear power plants remain the largest source of zero-emissions electricity in the US. While renewables such as wind and solar generated about 17% of the country's electricity in 2017, nuclear plants accounted for 20%.

Last month the NEI said the nuclear sector in the US is under stress because it has been taken for granted in “a perfect storm” created by very low natural gas prices, very low demand increases for electricity and subsidies for other types of generation.

The industry has long argued that electricity markets should be reformed to recognise the ability of traditional baseload generation with onsite fuel supplies – including nuclear power plants – to provide grid resiliency during extreme events like hurricanes or extreme winter weather.

Related reports in the NucNet database (available to subscribers):

  • Republicans And Democrats Must Work Together To Keep Nuclear Plants Open, Says NEI (News in Brief No.3, 04 January 2019)

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David Dalton

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