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Westinghouse, Ameren seek to develop small modular nuclear reactors in Mo.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation and St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri will collaborate on developing small modular nuclear reactors, or SMR’s, and will seek to build them atAmeren’s Callaway County plant.

Westinghouse officials say they’ll apply for $452 million in federal funding.  Plans are to build at least one and possibly five SMR's alongside Callaway’s current reactor, and to build more SMR’s at the site for export.  Governor Jay Nixon (D) described the economic potential as enormous.

“Missouri’s central location along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers would also make our state a convenient location for shipping these modular reactors to markets anywhere in the world," Nixon said at a press conference at the Governor's Mansion.  "This is a collaboration that would grow jobs, grow our economy.”

Ameren officials would apply for licenses to operate up to five SMR’s if the funding is approved.  CEO Warner Baxter says because of the agreement, they’re suspending legislative efforts to seek an early site permitfor a second nuclear reactor at Callaway.

“This combined construction and operating license basically entails all the activities for an early sight permit," Baxter said.  "So should we get this, we will have done essentially what we would need(ed) to have done for an early sight permit.”

Baxter admitted, though, that could change again if Westinghouse’s federal funds application is turned down.  But both Governor Nixon and Westinghouse Senior Vice President Kate Jackson suggested that the chances of that happening are highly unlikely. 

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.