The Senate has passed a bill aiming to lift restrictions on the building of nuclear reactors in the Commonwealth.
SB 89 changes requirements for facilities to have plans of permanent nuclear waste disposal on-site.
“The moratorium has strictly to do with expended fuel, the waste and it has to do with the storage of the waste," said Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Paducah). "As law stands now, if you have a nuclear reactor you have to have a plan for the disposal of that waste. The nuclear moratorium, if it were to be lifted, simply means that the material could be stored on site
Carroll, the bill's sponsor, says the loss of coal jobs and production has pushed an increase in the burning of natural gas, which is at historically low valuation. But, he says, Kentucky needs to diversify its portfolio if and when that market changes.
“And so we’re going to be paying these really high prices and we’re going to be looking for an alternative source of energy," said Carroll. "We're gonna be scrambling to get this process started to get the moratorium lifted and it’s going to take years once it is lifted to actually to get through regulatory environment to get to the point where we can actually build nuclear reactors in the state.”
Carroll says energy companies like the Tennessee Valley Authority may be interested in constructing and operating a small-modular nuclear reactor near the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant once the moratorium is lifted.
State Rep. Gerald Watkins is sponsoring a similar bill that allows reactor construction only in specific areas. Carroll says if that version passes, he’ll continue to push for a full moratorium lift in years ahead.