The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the design of a new kind of reactor, known as a small modular reactor (SMR). The design, from the Portland, Ore.–based company NuScale Power, is intended to speed construction, lower cost and improve safety over traditional nuclear reactors, which are typically many times larger. Supporters of SMRs have long touted them as a way to help revive the country’s nuclear industry and widen the spread of low-carbon electricity. But some experts have expressed concerns over the potential expense and remaining safety issues that the industry would have to address before any such reactors are actually built.
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