The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have a mandatory hearing on August 14 regarding an application for an early site permit for one or more small modular nuclear reactors at the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge. It’s the final step in the agency’s review of the application.
The Commission hearing will include testimony and exhibits from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which applied for the early site permit, as well as from the NRC staff. The testimony and exhibits will be about the question of whether the NRC staff’s review adequately supports the findings that are necessary to issue a permit, a press release said.
The August 14 hearing will begin at 9 a.m. in the Commission Hearing Room at NRC Headquarters at 11555 Rockville Pike in Rockville, Maryland. The hearing will be open to public observation and webcast. A detailed agenda and presentation slides will be available in advance on the Commission’s meeting page.
The hearing will concern safety and environmental matters that are related to the early site permit application, according to a notice recently published in the Federal Register. 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.
TVA submitted its early site permit application for the Clinch River Nuclear Site on May 12, 2016. TVA used the plant parameter envelope approach, which does not specify a reactor design, in its application for the site. The NRC would need to review and approve an additional application from TVA, including a specific reactor design, before any construction or operating license could be issued.
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.
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.
The 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 previous story here.
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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