December 5, 2022

Military research team eyes Idaho for prototype mobile nuclear reactor

The US military is looking for a site to build their prototype mobile nuclear reactor and Idaho seems like the perfect place. The Department of Defense has been working on this project since 2014, but they have yet to find an appropriate location.

It’s not just the DoD who wants this facility- Idaho Governor Butch Otter has written a letter to Secretary Mattis requesting that his state be considered as one of the possible sites where the reactor could be built.

In a statement to Defense News, Otter’s chief of staff Jon Hanian outlined the benefits for Idaho. “The governor has reached out to Secretary Mattis, and he will continue conversations with Idaho’s Congressional Delegation to bring new opportunities for our state,” Hanian said. He added that securing a military facility would be a boost for the state’s economy.

One of the reasons that Idaho is being considered for this facility is because of climate and geographical similarities to Alaska, where a prototype was built in the 1980s. In addition to military benefits, Hanian also noted that “Incorporating this capability into our nuclear energy facilities would diversify and strengthen Idaho’s energy portfolio, and, most importantly, the local support for the facility.”

However, not everyone is excited about this project. A group of anti-nuclear campaigners held a protest in downtown Idaho Falls last year to oppose the plan. “The fundamental problem with nuclear reactors is they contain long-lived radioactive waste that remains dangerous for tens of thousands of years,” said Paul K. Eggers, the organization’s president. According to him, building a “low-power” prototype reactor in Idaho would just be an excuse for future expansion of nuclear power plants in the area.

However, it may not come to that. The cost of building the facility could be upwards of $100 million dollars, which is why the DoD is trying to find a private contractor to co-finance it with them. They are also hoping that they will be able to reduce costs by utilizing existing facilities where possible.

The US seems determined to build this project, but the lack of any real plan on how to use it may give their opponents some hope yet.

An article from The Hill last year said that “Pentagon officials have not detailed a timeline to develop and deploy a prototype or where it would be located.”

This lack of information has been making many people anxious about the project’s plans, especially since the only real reason for building one is because of what will happen once it becomes operational. In a recent article from Newsweek , it has been revealed that experts believe the DoD’s insistence on building this reactor is more about nuclear deterrence instead of energy production.

The real question is: will Idaho become a target for future military endeavors because of its status as a potential site for this facility? It seems likely, especially when you consider how often nukes have been mentioned in the news lately.

The silence from both Gov. Otter and Secretary Mattis is troubling as well. It’s as if they are trying to sweep this issue under a rug without drawing any attention to it whatsoever- an odd tactic for someone who used to be four-star General of the Marine Corps.