The following article is taken from today’s Cayman Compass.
A US company has proposed a small nuclear power generator for Cayman now that the electricity industry has been liberalised.
The nuclear reactor is called SSTAR – an acronym for “small, sealed, transportable, autonomous, reactor” is being proposed by a Terre Haute, Indiana–based company called Everglow Power Inc.
The company uses the so–called “pocket nuke” line of reactors that come in sizes that can generate between 10 to 100 megawatts of electricity. Everglow Power Sales and Marketing Manager Gordon Zapya said the company was looking to put a 10–megawatt generator here in Cayman.
“We’ve had several meetings with various government officials and we’ve already done a preliminary survey of possible sites for the generator,” he said. “Because a 10 megawatt generator is 40–feet tall, it would have to be installed partially underground to meet your planning code, we must have a site that is at least 20 feet above sea level.
Although he would not say what his company’s preferred location was for the nuclear generator, Mr. Zapya said it was along the north coast of Grand Cayman in an area of indigenous cliff rock.
Contrary to popular belief, nuclear power is more environmentally friendly than other generating methods using hydro or oil–based methods, Mr. Zapya said.
“People are coming to understand that nuclear is the true “green” power,” he said, adding that technological advances over the past decade have also made nuclear power extremely safe.
Disposal of nuclear waste is not a problem with the company’s SSTAR generators.
“The reactor only has enough Uranium–238 fuel to provide a constant source of power for 30 years,” he said. “After that, the manufacturer will come and take the generator away.”
Mr. Zapya said the Cayman Islands need not worry about the manufacturer fulfilling its obligations to remove the spent nuclear reactor.
“The manufacturer will put a significant amount of the purchase price in an investment escrow account here in the Cayman Islands. Over the 30–year life of the reactor, the escrow account will be worth more than the purchase price.”
The SSTAR has several advanced safety features.
“The reactor is passively safe, which means it does not require operator action or electronic feedback in order to shut down safely in the event of some kind of emergency like overheating or tampering.” he said. “Basically, the reactor is idiot proof. Homer Simpson could operate it.”
Because most of the nuclear reactor will be housed underground, only a small portion will protrude above ground.
“The reactor is housed in a mostly–underground bunker that could withstand a hurricane with 175 mile per hour winds or a Magnitude 8 earthquake,” Mr. Zapya said. “In addition, it’s missile proof.”
The protruding part of housing will be decorated so that it fits in with Cayman’s tropical surroundings.
“We’ll paint it pink or some other colour that fits in with the rest of Cayman’s buildings and then nicely landscape the grounds.”
Although the reactor does not require an operator, Everglow Power does suggest at least one security guard on the site, who could also monitor the operation light.
“On the top of the reactor, there will be two lights, one green and one red. The green light will stay on while the reactor is operational and when all the fuel is spent, the red light will come on. Then it’s time for a new reactor.”
The SSTAR has anti–tampering devices and alarms to prevent any rogue elements from trying to steal the fuel for nuclear weapons.
Everglow Power lead scientist Itza Ruse said anyone who tried to tamper with the SSTAR would be in big trouble.
“The reactor’s alphabet alarms – named that way because there are 26 of them – are directly linked to the US Department of Defense. If someone messes with the reactor, US fighters or drones could be deployed from Guantanamo Bay in less than an hour to zap the bad guys.”
Mr. Ruse acknowledged that a lot of people just don’t believe there can be safe nuclear reactors.
“As sure as it’s April Fool’s day, we can light up Cayman safely,” he said.