The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a spending bill that includes two new naval nuclear reactor projects in the region, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., announced Friday.
The projects included in a $1.2 billion naval nuclear propulsion allocation approved by the committee would be overseen by Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory facilities in Niskayuna and West Milton.
Knolls’ primary business for 60 years has been doing research and development for the naval nuclear propulsion program.
The estimated cost of the local projects isn’t being released and probably won’t be for security reasons, said Gillibrand spokeswoman Bethany Lesser.
One of the new projects KAPL would oversee is designing the reactor for a new class of ballistic-missile submarine. The Navy is currently starting the design work for a new class of nuclear submarine to replace the current Ohio class of ballistic-missile submarines, which are scheduled to be phased out starting in the 2020s.
The appropriation bill also covers the refueling of a land-based prototype reactor at the West Milton site. The S8G reactor scheduled for refueling is one of two reactors at West Milton used for training sailors and testing critical reactor components before they are installed on Navy submarine and surface ships.
“This is great news for Saratoga County,” said Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “KAPL’s projects are crucial to the development of our Navy’s capabilities. I will continue to work to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the tools and resources they need to protect our country.”
KAPL employs 2,600 people in the Capital Region, with reactor design work being done in Niskayuna and training of sailors on prototype reactors taking place at the Kenneth A. Kesselring training site in West Milton. It isn’t yet clear how the new projects will affect KAPL employment.
With the Senate Armed Services Committee having approved the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the bill will now be sent to the full Senate for passage.
Once passed in the Senate, it would be expected to go to conference with the House of Representatives to work out differences, after which it would be delivered to the president for his signature.