The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Feb. 18 that an agreement has been reached to grant a Site Use Permit to Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) for an innovative small modular reactor (SMR) project within DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site.
The SMR design for the Carbon Free Power Project is being provided by NuScale Power of Portland, Oregon. DOE announced the permit in a news release.
The INL Site Use Permit signed by the DOE and UAMPS allows the latter to access the INL site to analyze environmental, safety, and siting conditions.
UAMPS is currently working to identify potential locations that may be suitable for building the UAMPS Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) for further characterization and analysis.
As potential locations are identified on the INL site, those locations will be provided to DOE to ensure that the use of such site would not conflict with INL mission work.
Site characterization activities will be conducted in accordance with all established INL site stewardship protocols to include environmental protection, and historic and cultural resource preservation.
The carbon free project is a commercial venture on a federal compound, and the successful deployment of a small modular reactor design would provide U.S. utilities with a greater range of nuclear energy options to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases, DOE said.
SMRs feature compact, scalable designs that are expected to offer a host of safety, construction and economic benefits, and could potentially supply low-carbon baseload energy to small electric grids and locations that cannot support larger reactors, DOE said.
If UAMPS identifies a suitable development area within the INL site boundary, and if DOE determines that the use of such site would not conflict with INL mission work, the design, construction, operation, and eventual decommissioning of an SMR at the selected site would be licensed and inspected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), following extensive safety and environmental reviews.
The Idaho National Laboratory site is a sprawling federal facility that is approximately 890 square miles in size and located in parts of five counties near Idaho Falls, Idaho.
At the INL site, DOE and its contractors conduct multi-program activities, including nuclear research and development, waste management, environmental remediation, technology development and transfer, and national security missions.
UAMPS intends to develop, license, construct, own and operate a nominal 600- MW combined capacity first-of-a-kind modular nuclear reactors facility using the reactor design being developed by NuScale.
DOE shall retain title to the property. The permit being issued to UAMPS is not exclusive.
Following a competitive financial assistance process, DOE awarded a cooperative agreement to NuScale Power for SMR design development on June 1, 2014.
Use permit stipulates conditions for carbon-free power project work
The recent agreement stipulates that UAMPS must soon identify specific “candidate sites” for the SMR. NRC must issue a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which would form the basis of a record of decision (ROD).
The use permit agreement stipulates that activity by UAMPS and NuScale “shall be conducted in a manner that will not materially interfere with DOE or its contractors’ operations at the INL site. Minor foreseeable impacts, such as increases in traffic on the INL site are exempted from this provision.”
The agreement notes that INL is an EPA Superfund site, and “has the potential to contain unexploded ordnance. As a result, access to and activities on the candidate locations for the [carbon free power] Site may be restricted.”
DOE would rule upon any disputes that arise at the site. DOE’s ruling, however, could be appealed to the United States District Court for the District of Idaho with venue in Pocatello, Idaho.