The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has found no safety concerns that would prevent the issue of an early site permit (ESP) to Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA ) for the potential use of a site at Clinch River for two or more small modular reactors (SMRs). The site hosted the former Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project.
NRC’s 600-page final safety evaluation reviewed site seismology, geology, hydrology and accident risks, among other things. “The staff will provide the report on the application to the commission for a mandatory hearing on the permit later this year,” NRC said. “The commission will conduct the hearing to determine whether the staff’s review supports the findings necessary to issue the permit.”
The permit is valid for 10 to 20 years, renewable for an additional 10 to 20 years. TVA’s application, submitted in 2016, is for two or more small modular reactor (SMR) modules of up to 800MWe at the 486 hectare site near the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It was the first SMR-related application to be received by the NRC.
The DOE is supporting the TVA project through an agreement which can reimburse the utility for up to 50% of eligible costs. The five-year agreement, finalised in July 2015, will also support a combined construction and operating licence (COL) application.
Photo: Aerial photo of the Clinch River site (Credit; TVA)