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Gadsden, Ala., Chosen as Site for $232M Micro-Modular Reactor Assembly Plant

Thu July 13, 2023 - Southeast Edition #15
Alabama News Center


The 578,000-sq.-ft. factory will feature advanced manufacturing processes and equipment and will be capable of producing up to 10 complete MMR nuclear batteries per year. (Ultra Safe Nuclear rendering)
The 578,000-sq.-ft. factory will feature advanced manufacturing processes and equipment and will be capable of producing up to 10 complete MMR nuclear batteries per year. (Ultra Safe Nuclear rendering)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. (USNC), a Seattle-based company that's expanding microreactor technologies, plans to invest $232 million to locate a facility in Gadsden, Ala., to produce its Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR).

The announcement was made by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey on June 21.

The highly automated MMR Assembly Plant (MAP) will manufacture, assemble, test and inspect the non-radiological modules needed to construct its advanced microreactors, reported Alabama News Center. No radioactive material is to be used or stored at the company's Gadsden facility.

USNC said the plant will be the nation's first commercial scale microreactor production facility. When operational, MAP will employ 250 professional and technical workers.

Construction is to begin in 2024, with the facility operational in 2027.

"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."

Gadsden Chosen from Among Hundreds of Potential Sites

USNC said the decision to locate in Gadsden resulted from a year-long search spanning 16 states and hundreds of potential sites.

Among the primary factors evaluated were site suitability and infrastructure, skilled workforce availability and overall project economics.

USNC and the state of Alabama formalized the deal through a project agreement executed by Ivey and company Chief Nuclear Officer Dan Stout, according to Alabama News Center.

News of the agreement from USNC came during a keynote address by Stout at the 10th Advanced Reactors Summit and Technology Trailblazers Showcase in Charlotte, N.C.

"We appreciate the interest and support for this effort from the city of Gadsden, Etowah County, the Alabama Department of Commerce [DOC], and so many others up to and including Gov. Ivey and her talented team," he said. "We especially appreciate the guidance and efforts of April Gray at the [state DOC] and David Hooks of the Gadsden-Etowah Industrial Development Authority in making this project a reality."

Alabama Power also was among the partners supporting the effort.

USNC representatives note significant potential for expansion and export as demand for the MMR high-temperature gas reactor gains global interest and traction.

There also is high potential for USNC suppliers to establish a local presence, thereby creating even more growth and opportunity in and around Gadsden.

"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," said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama DOC.

"This is safe and amazing technology, and I'm pleased that it will be made in Alabama."

A ‘Game-Changer' for Gadsden

The 578,000-sq.-ft. factory will feature advanced manufacturing processes and equipment and will be capable of producing up to 10 complete MMR nuclear batteries per year.

"We are attracted to Gadsden by their skilled workforce and the outstanding training programs and support they are bringing to the table," explained Ted Coulter, plant director for the new MMR factory at USNC. "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 MAP project establishes an advanced nuclear manufacturing hub in Gadsden and the surrounding region.

"This is a game-changer for Gadsden," Mayor Craig Ford said. "Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.'s selection of Gadsden proves what I've known all my life about the unmatched grit and capability of our workforce."

The facility will be located on Hangar Road, just south of the Northeast Alabama Regional Airport. The city and the airport authority have executed an agreement to sell the required acreage.




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