On January 20th, 2022, two members of the Purdue University Women in Nuclear chapter, President Liz Bramer and Vice President Morgan Smith, traveled to the Indiana State House with a delegation of their peers to testify in support of Senate Bill 271, in front of the Senate Utilities Committee. This bill would set up a framework and open the door for small modular reactors (SMRs) and the jobs they bring with them to be brought to Indiana. While nuclear energy is not banned in the state of Indiana, two previous projects in the state were abandoned in the mid-80’s, and there are no nuclear reactors currently in use in Indiana. The state’s only source of clean nuclear power comes from DTE’s Enrico Fermi II Nuclear Power Plant near Monroe, Michigan. This bill is the first step to bringing the environmental and economic benefits of nuclear power to the state of Indiana.
As current nuclear engineering students, it was crucial to the students to advocate for a bill that would impact their career paths as well as the ability to stay in the state that they have called home for the past 4 years while at Purdue. Joining the likes of the DOE and NEI, in their testimonies, they appealed to the state senators to not only consider the environmental benefits of this bill but also the economic benefits. As an Indiana native, Liz has seen firsthand how nuclear power could benefit her state and gave a heartfelt testimony on how SMRs would allow her, and students like her, to remain in Indiana after graduation. In her testimony, she mentioned how Indiana is a “nuclear no man’s land” and how this negatively impacts nuclear students seeking jobs in the state after graduation. In Morgan’s testimony, she talked about the potential environmental benefits that SMRs would bring to the state of Indiana, allowing the state to start its journey to becoming carbon neutral. Morgan also touched on some of the senator’s concerns over the storage of spent fuel and the perceived hazard that it could impose. She spoke about the United States’ current spent fuel infrastructure and how this new generation of reactors uses less fuel per cycle.
Morgan and Liz shared, “We are not only thrilled that we were able to testify on this bill, but also that both of our representatives from the student delegation were women, showing the state senators that the future of the nuclear industry is female.” With positive responses to the testimonies, they are happy to announce that the bill passed through the utilities committee with a vote of 8-2 and on March 18th the bill was signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb.
Picture caption: Morgan Smith and Liz Bramer standing in front of the Indiana State House in Indianapolis, Indiana.