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Gadsden selected as home of new microreactor manufacturing plant

The plant is scheduled to begin construction in 2024 and become operational in 2027.

An image of the potential facility Office of Governor Kay Ivey

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) will construct a Micro-Modular Reactor assembly plant in Gadsden, USNC’s Chief Nuclear Officer Dan Stout announced alongside Gadsden Mayor Craig Ford on Wednesday at the 10th Advanced Reactors Summit and Technology Trailblazers Showcase in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The 57,800 square foot facility will manufacture the modules used to construct USNC’s microreactors. The facility will not deal with radiological elements; no nuclear fuel or other radioactive material will be used or stored at the plant.

Following a search that considered 16 states and hundreds of potential sites, USNC selected Gadsden as the location for the new plant and entered a project agreement with Governor Kay Ivey.

“Alabama is home to an impressive array of highly innovative companies, so our state is an ideal place for Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.’s new advanced microreactor assembly plant,” Ivey said. “This unique facility will benefit the Gadsden community through a significant investment and the creation of good jobs while also reinforcing Alabama’s reputation for cutting-edge manufacturing operations.”

The plant is scheduled to begin construction in 2024 and become operational in 2027. When operational, the plant will employ 250 professional and technical workers and will be capable of producing 10 complete Micro-Modular Reactor units. The units will be shipped for use around the world.

“We are attracted to Gadsden by their skilled workforce and the outstanding training programs and support they are bringing to the table,” Ted Coulter, plant director at USNC, said. “In Gadsden, I have confidence we can hire local talent and operate with both safety and efficiency. We are looking forward to becoming a member of the community.”

The project is expected to bring $232 million to Gadsden. USNC pointed to the potential for further economic development, especially if their suppliers establish a local presence.

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“Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s selection of Gadsden proves what I’ve known all my life about the unmatched grit and capability of our workforce,” Ford said. “With this plant being focused on manufacturing and assembly, our workforce is built for exactly this type of industry. We look forward to filling the hundreds of innovative, technology-driven jobs once this new assembly plant becomes operational in 2027. Gadsden and USNC are excited to grow together.”

The plant is planned as the first commercial-scale microreactor production facility in the United States. Until Georgia Power started up the Vogtle nuclear reactor Unit 3 in March, no nuclear reactor had been built in the US since 2016, and the number of active reactors has declined since 2012, with 23 reactors being decommissioned. USNC’s microreactors produce 300 megawatts per year, rather than a traditional reactor’s one gigawatt/year output.

“USNC’s microreactors will be produced at the state-of-the-art facility in Gadsden and shipped as modules to sites around the world, allowing for the generation of reliable energy anywhere,” Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, said. “This is safe and amazing technology, and I’m pleased that it will be ‘Made in Alabama.’”

Samuel Stettheimer is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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