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I have been seeing rumors of this idea for quite some time, and not much has come to pass. However, since the news story is in the Yomiuri Shimbun, and it involves Toshiba, perhaps there is something there. Toshiba is reportedly in the process of developing a small nuclear reactor for producing steam for mining oil sands in Canada.

Toshiba has a reactor design that operates in the fast neutron spectrum and would be cooled by liquid sodium. It is called the 4S for Super Safe, Small and Simple.

The town of Galena, Alaska has also investigated installing one of these nuclear reactors.

More information from the US NRC.

- Pete
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