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Environment groups sound the alarm on Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to develop small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs)

Green groups oppose TVA plan to test small nuclear reactors, Utility Dive Robert WaltonJune 27, 2017

Dive Brief:

  • Two environmental groups have petitioned the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to intervene in the agency’s review of Tennessee Valley Authority’s plan to develop small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) at a site near Kingston, Tenn.
  • The federal utility has petitioned NRC for an early site permit (ESP) to determine whether the site is suitable for two or more SMRs, with a capacity of up to 800 MW.
  • TVA has been pushing for more than a year to site small reactors at the abandoned Clinch River nuclear development site.

Dive Insight:

Several conservation groups led by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy are sounding the alarm over TVA’s plans to site small reactors at the Clinch River site, allowing the utility to reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around the proposed reactors.

The SMR concept proposes to utilize smaller reactors which can be developed offsite and then constructed quickly. Opponents fear their smaller size may lead to more lax restrictions, and say TVA should be looking to clean energy alternatives.

“The accurate description of what SMRs will actually do for TVA and its customers is squander more resources,” said Sara Barczak, high risk energy choices program director for SACE. “We hope our intervention will prove successful and prevent TVA from making a bad decision that would cost customers and potentially put local communities and the environment at risk.”

SACE and the Tennessee Environmental Council petitioned NRC, contending the federal utility has not shown it has fully reviewed the risks, including the “safety and environmental risks of spent fuel pool fires, which could have far-reaching and catastrophic consequences.”

The groups say TVA wants to reduce the size of the emergency planning zone around the proposed reactors “from the standard ten miles to the site boundary or at most two miles, thereby exempting state and local governments from emergency planning requirements and reducing the level of preparedness for an accident at the reactors.”

“TVA expects the public near the Clinch River site to accept on faith that the fantasy nuclear reactors it wants to build there will be so safe that no evacuation plan is needed, even in the event of a core meltdown or a spent fuel pool fire,” Union of Concerned Scientists’ Edwin Lyman said in a statement.

TVA officials told the Times Free Press that they have not yet decided whether to move forward on the Clinch River SMR plan, but part of its mandate as a federal utility is to work with other agencies on energy development. TVA is working with the Department of Energy on the SMR pilot. ……


June 28, 2017 - Posted by | technology, USA

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