New Projects, Nuclear

NRC finds no safety concerns for TVA’s Clinch River SMR nuclear site

(Photo courtesy of TVA)

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found no safety concerns that would prevent the Tennessee Valley Authority from locating its proposed Clinch River Nuclear Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The NRC’s final safety evaluation report was completed for the TVA’s early site permit application, according to Tuesday’s news release. The 600-page report 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,” the NRC release reads. “The commission will conduct the hearing to determine whether the staff’s review supports the findings necessary to issue the permit.”

In April the NRC completed its environmental impact evaluation and found nothing that would preclude issuing a permit to the TVA, which submitted its application three years ago.

The Clinch River site  is considered to be a next-generation nuclear technology project by the TVA. The 1,200-acre site would house small modular reactors  in a facility which would be less expensive to build and offer a shorter construction period.

The U.S. Department of Energy is supporting the TVA project through an agreement which can reimburse the utility for up to 50 percent of eligible costs.

The Clinch River Nuclear Site is 20 miles from the TVA’s Bull Run coal-fired plant, which is closing.

Nuclear power in the U.S. was at a standstill for close to three decades after the Three Mile Island accident. Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas tried to build two new nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Generating Station, but abandoned the work in July 2017 after nearly 10 years and $9 billion spent.

Georgia Power and its partners are continuing with work at the Vogtle plant to build new reactors. The Vogtle project has cost close to $25 billion and is behind schedule, but the utility owners are re-committed to completing it sometime in the next decade.

Nuclear energy is carbon free, generates close to 20 percent of the U.S. electricity mix and more than 10 percent globally.