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TVA wants comments on OR nuclear reactor proposal by Monday

Public comments on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s proposal to install nuclear reactors at the Clinch River Reactor site in Oak Ridge are due Monday, April 4.

TVA has proposed a technology park which would contain one or more advanced nuclear reactors with a cumulative electrical output not to exceed 800 megawatts.

Electronic comment submissions are preferred. Comments can be emailed to nepa@epa.gov, on the web at www.tva.gov/nepa, or sent by mail to attn. J. Taylor Johnson, NEPA Compliance Specialist, 1101 Market Street, BR 2C-C, Chattanooga, TN, 37402. More information on this project is available on the reactor and its environmental review on TVA’s official website for the project.

Jim Hopson, TVA public information officer, told The Oak Ridger in an interview that if the plan proceeds, the project is intended to “demonstrate the feasibility” of a small modular reactor (SMR). Eventually, he said, it would be a “full working unit” to generate power for the power grid.

This reactor, if it goes ahead, would reportedly be the first of its kind built in the United States and one of the first in the world. Hopson said small modular reactors will be smaller than other types of reactors, and their parts could possibly be built more cheaply in factories rather than on site.

Compared to current reactors such as the pair at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Spring City, Tenn., SMRs would not have to run with full power all the time, but could follow power demand, which makes them ideal for filling in the gaps of when power generated by the sun and wind are not available. Also, they could be used for adding smaller amounts of power to the electrical grid as needed.

TVA has stated it is “seeking public comments on the submitted alternatives, information, and analyses and the summary thereof” in a document it has released called the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.

As explained at a March 10 open house, the document lists different options or “alternatives” TVA might take. This type of list is typical for environmental impact statement documents. One is to take no action at all. Another is to build small modular reactors or light water reactors close to the bend of the Clinch River. Yet another is to build advanced light water reactors at a different, but nearby site. The last is to build reactors of both kinds at both sites. This last option is the one TVA stated it preferred.

TVA has stated it “considered but eliminated” two other choices: building small modular reactors at other sites or construction of alternative energy sources instead of nuclear ones.

Ben Pounds is a staff reporter for The Oak Ridger. Call him at (865) 441-2317, follow him on Twitter @Bpoundsjournal and email him at bpounds@oakridger.com.

This image from TVA's presentation lists the different options TVA is considering for the Clinch River reactor site as well as the locations  at which they would be built.

Source: The Oak Ridger