The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a hearing for an application for a site in west Oak Ridge where small modular nuclear reactors could be built.
The hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, August 14, at the NRC in Rockville, Maryland.
The NRC will discuss an early site permit application submitted by the Tennessee Valley Authority for the Clinch River Nuclear Site. TVA has proposed using the 935-acre site, which is along the Clinch River south of Heritage Center (the former K-25 site), to build two or more small modular reactors. The site once hosted the former Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project.
During the August 14 hearing, the NRC will have an evidentiary session to hear testimony and receive exhibits in the uncontested proceeding for TVA’s early site permit application, according to a notice published in the Federal Register on Monday.
The hearing will concern safety and environmental matters that are related to the early site permit application, the notice said. It will help determine whether the review of TVA’s application by the NRC staff has been adequate under federal laws and regulations, including the Atomic Energy Act and National Environmental Policy Act.
In April, Oak Ridge Today reported that the NRC had issued a final environmental impact statement for the site, and the staff had recommended, based upon that review, issuing the early site permit.
That recommendation came after the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards recommended approving the early site permit in a January 9 letter to the NRC. The committee reports on the parts of an early site permit application that concern safety.
TVA submitted its application for the early site permit in May 2016.
The Clinch River Nuclear Site could be used to demonstrate small modular reactors with a maximum total electrical output of 800 megawatts. Small modular reactors, or SMRs, would be smaller than traditional nuclear power plants, and they would produce less power.
The NRC’s early site permit process for the reactors allows an applicant to address site-related issues, such as environmental impacts, for possible future construction and operation of a nuclear power plant at the site.
The early site permit has not been issued for the Clinch River Nuclear Site. The August 14 NRC hearing is required now that the final safety evaluation report has been published.
After the hearing, the five-member commission is expected to make a decision about whether to issue the early site permit. If it is issued, the permit will be valid for up to 20 years.
An early site permit is the NRC’s approval of a site for one or more nuclear power facilities. It does not authorize the actual construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant. That requires a construction permit and an operating license, or a combined license.
TVA has not selected a specific reactor technology for the Clinch River site. Instead, TVA used a plant parameter envelope to develop its early site permit application. That means the public utility used technical information from various reactor designs to develop parameters that were used to evaluate the suitability of the site for the future construction and operation of a nuclear power plant.
No certified small modular reactor designs are currently available.
See the Federal Register notice here.
See the NRC’s final safety evaluation report here.
See the NRC’s website page about the early site permit application for the Clinch River Nuclear Site here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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