DOE has scoping EIS meeting on Versatile Test Reactor on Wednesday

The U.S. Department of Energy will have a scoping meeting Wednesday night for an environmental impact statement, or EIS, for a Versatile Test Reactor that could be located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory or Idaho National Laboratory.

The Versatile Test Reactor would be used to test fuels and materials for commercial nuclear power reactors.

Besides being under consideration for the Versatile Test Reactor, Idaho National Laboratory is also under consideration for the fabrication of the fuel needed to run the Versatile Test Reactor. The Savannah River Site in South Carolina is also being considered for the fuel fabrication.

The public can comment through September 4 about what should be included in a draft environmental impact statement for the reactor, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. DOE will publish the final EIS and make it available to the public for 30 days before issuing a record of decision, TDEC said.

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Test reactor could be built at Oak Ridge, Idaho

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Sign
Photo by ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory are being considered as potential sites for a test reactor, where fuels and materials could be tested for new types of nuclear power reactors.

It’s not clear where the test reactor would be built at ORNL, if it’s built there.

The fast-neutron reactor, called the Versatile Test Reactor, would be sodium-cooled and small, about 300 megawatts thermal. It would be based on the GE Hitachi PRISM power reactor. That’s a small module design based on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, which operated for more than 30 years in Idaho, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a notice published in the Federal Register on Monday. (Fast neutrons are highly energetic neutrons that travel at speeds ranging from tens to thousands of kilometers per second.)

The Versatile Test Reactor would be a pool-type reactor and use metal alloy fuels that could include uranium, plutonium, zirconium and other alloying metals. It would not be a power reactor, and it would not generate electricity. It could generate at least 4×1015 neutrons per square centimeter per second.

Reactor operations could start as early as the end of 2026, DOE said. Fuel for the reactor could be fabricated at Idaho National Laboratory or the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

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