NRC to review TVA application for Small Modular nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

(Information from Oak Ridge Today, a WYSH news partner) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC, has accepted TVA’s application for an early site permit for small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs, at the Clinch River site in west Oak Ridge.

TVA submitted the application for two or more SMRs last may and received word late last year that the NRC had accepted the application for “docketing and [a] detailed technical review.”

While a specific reactor design has not been selected, the NRC said TVA has identified parameters for a surrogate nuclear plant, and the agency will use them to evaluate the site’s suitability for building and operating a new nuclear plant.

The project’s timeline including the detailed technical review, will likely take years to complete and, if approved, it would probably not be until at least another decade before the reactors would become operational.

The NRC has an April 5 (next Wednesday) target date to establish a review schedule and send a schedule letter to TVA.

TVA is evaluating the possibility of building the small modular reactors, or SMRs, at the 1,200-acre Clinch River Site. That site is in west Oak Ridge just north of the Clinch River and Interstate 40, south of Heritage Center (the former K-25 site), and between Highway 95 and Highway 58 in a bend of the Clinch River.

According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, TVA is the first entity to submit any type of application regarding SMRs to the NRC.

It’s not clear yet how many SMRs could be built in Oak Ridge, but officials have previously said it could range between two and six. TVA said last year that SMRs are designed to be used in groups, but no decision has been made about the number that could be built here.

The small modular reactors, or SMRs, would be smaller than traditional nuclear power plants, and they would produce less power. All of TVA’s traditional nuclear power plants generate at least 1,100 megawatts, compared to the 80-200 megawatts of a proposed SMR. Still, SMRs could provide enough electricity to power several cities the size of Oak Ridge. One hundred megawatts is enough to power about 60,000 homes.

Unlike a traditional nuclear power plant, SMRs could be produced in a factory and transferred to a site by trucks or railroads.

The proposal to build small modular nuclear reactors, possibly including in Oak Ridge, has been in the works for a number of years. The Clinch River units could be, depending upon the timing, the first commercial reactors of their type in the United States, according to ORT.

Read much more about this story here.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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