The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission will seek public comments on what environmental matters it should consider during its review of the early site permit application for the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge.
The NRC will seek the comments during two meetings in Oak Ridge on Monday that are part of the process used to develop an environmental impact statement.
The first meeting is from 1-4 p.m. Monday, May 15, in the Pollard Technology Conference Center Auditorium at 210 Badger Avenue in Oak Ridge. The second meeting is from 6-9 p.m. that same day.
The Tennessee Valley Authority submitted an application last May for the early site permit for small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs, at the Clinch River Site in west Oak Ridge. The early site permit application is for two or more SMRs. The NRC accepted the application for “docketing and detailed technical review” in December.
A specific reactor design has not been selected. TVA has identified parameters for a surrogate nuclear plant, and the NRC will use them to evaluate the site’s suitability for building and operating a new nuclear plant.
“If NRC determines that the site is suitable for the building and operation of a new nuclear plant, prior to building and operation of a plant at the site, NRC would need to review and approve an additional application from TVA (either a combined license (COL) or a construction permit (CP)) that includes a specific reactor design,” the NRC said in an earlier post on its website.
The project’s timeline, which includes a detailed technical review, is now in the hands of the NRC, and it will likely take several years, TVA spokesperson Scott Brooks said in March.
Officials have previously said it could be a decade or so before the SMRs start operating— and that’s assuming all goes according to plan.
TVA is evaluating the possibility of building the small modular reactors, or SMRs, at the 1,200-acre Clinch River Site. That site is in west Oak Ridge just north of the Clinch River and Interstate 40, south of Heritage Center (the former K-25 site), and between Highway 95 and Highway 58 in a bend of the Clinch River.
The NRC will use the application to review site safety, environmental, and emergency preparedness requirements for potential construction of the next-generation nuclear technology.
Officials had previously said the review of TVA’s application for an early site permit could take about three years, and maybe longer if any groups raise legal challenges. There were expected to be at least two more public meetings once TVA meets the basic requirements to have its early site permit application reviewed. Officials had said the NRC will come back to ask for community input on environmental issues.
Small modular reactors, or SMRs, would be smaller than traditional nuclear power plants, and they would produce less power. All of TVA’s traditional nuclear power plants generate at least 1,100 megawatts, compared to the 80-200 megawatts of a proposed SMR. Still, SMRs could provide enough electricity to power several cities the size of Oak Ridge. One hundred megawatts is enough to power about 60,000 homes. (Oak Ridge has about 12,000 homes.)
Unlike a traditional nuclear power plant, SMRs could be produced in a factory and transferred to a site by trucks or railroads. They wouldn’t have the hyperbolic cooling tower associated with traditional nuclear power plants. But they would still use low-enriched uranium.
The proposal to build small modular nuclear reactors, possibly including in Oak Ridge, has been in the works for a number of years. The Clinch River units could be, depending upon the timing, the first commercial reactors of their type in the United States.
Here are the NRC participants in the next week’s meeting:
- Patricia Vokoun, Office of New Reactors
- Mallecia Sutton, Office of New Reactors
- Zarva Taru, Office of New Reactors
- Andrew Kugler, Office of New Reactors
- Andy Campbell, Office of New Reactors
- Kenneth Erwin, Office of New Reactors
- Kenneth Thomas, Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
- Dan Barss, Office of Nuclear Security and Incident Response
- Scott Burnell, Office of Public Affairs
Mark McIntosh of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will also participate.
You can learn more on the NRC website.
For more information, contact Patricia Vokoun at (800) 368-5642.
See our previous story from March here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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