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Many obstacles to small modular nuclear reactors, but U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends them, anyway

NRC recommends issuing early site permit for Clinch River Nuclear Site, OAK RIDGE TODAY,  APRIL 8, 2019BY JOHN HUOTARI The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a final environmental impact statement, and the staff has recommended, based upon the environmental review, issuing an early site permit for the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge, where two or more small modular nuclear reactors could be built.The final environmental impact statement, or EIS, was issued by the NRC on April 3. A notice of the EIS and the staff’s recommendation were published in the Federal Register on Monday, April 8.

The 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site is located in Roane County along the Clinch River……….

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. ………

The Clinch River Nuclear Site could be used to demonstrate small modular reactors with a maximum total electrical output of 800 megawatts………

Now that the final EIS has been published, there will be a mandatory hearing with the NRC after a final safety evaluation report is issued. The NRC expects that report to be published in June. The five-member commission will make a decision after the hearing about whether to issue the early site permit.

A contested hearing could be held by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel if a member of the public or an organization successfully files a petition that raises safety or environmental concerns about granting the site a permit, the NRC said.

The NRC said an authorization for the construction or operation of new nuclear units at the Clinch River site is not being sought at this time.

The potential timing of any reactors being built at the site is not clear. Among other things, TVA doesn’t control the reactor certification process.

“There are currently no certified small modular reactor designs available, but TVA will continue working to ensure we are ready to fully evaluate them when they are available,” Hopson said.

Financial considerations would have to be evaluated, and the TVA board of directors would have the final decision “based on what they believe will be in the best interest of the people of the Tennessee Valley,” Hopson said.

Since a design hasn’t been certified for a small modular reactor, TVA used what is known as a “plant parameter envelope” as a surrogate for a nuclear power plant and its facilities when applying for the early site permit. The “plant parameter envelope” estimated the potential environmental impacts of building and operating two or more small modular reactors at the site. TVA used information from four small modular reactor vendors to develop the “plant parameter envelope.”

A reader has asked why TVA might consider adding new generating capacity at the Clinch River site even as it plans to retire coal-fired units like the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton, citing flat or declining demand………

April 9, 2019 - Posted by | politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA

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