As expected, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has applied for its early site permit at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in order to assess the potential for construction and operation of small modular reactor (SMRs) at its Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The application positions TVA as an industry leader for potential development of the incremental baseload technology, TVA said in a May 13 news release.
“This submittal is a key milestone for our company and the nuclear industry,” said TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes. “TVA is the first in the industry to submit any type of application related to SMRs to the NRC. It’s a significant event for us as we continue exploring potential SMR technology as a way of expanding our diverse portfolio to ensure a safe, reliable supply of energy for those we serve.”
The NRC will use the application to review site safety, environmental and emergency preparedness requirements for potential construction of the next-generation nuclear technology at the 1,200-acre location.
“This is the next big step in evaluating the suitability of the Clinch River site for potential future construction and operation of SMRs,” said Dan Stout, TVA senior manager for small modular reactors.
TVA’s exploration into SMR technology is in line with the company’s mission for technological innovation as part of its continuing efforts towards cleaner and more diversified energy generation, TVA said.
The application and subsequent work on the review and approval process is co-funded under an Interagency Agreement between TVA and the U.S. Department of Energy. The submittal of the permit is firmly aligned with the key strategic DOE goal of accelerating SMRs into the domestic marketplace, TVA said.
“We’re still several years away from any potential construction decision,” said Stout. “However, the application process helps pave the way for TVA to expand on its mission of environmental stewardship through clean energy development and for DOE to support licensing and siting requirements for U.S.-based SMR projects.”
TVA is keeping its options open on what SMR technology vendor that it might use.
The Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) has been securing DOE approval to potentially site SMR technology developed by NuScale Power at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) site.
SMR filing latest nuclear move by TVA
The filing with NRC on the small reactor site continues what has been a busy time for nuclear-related issues at TVA.
TVA has recently been doing testing for Watts Bar Unit 2 in Rhea County, Tennessee. The federal utility has indicated that the $4.7bn nuclear completion project could start commercial operation in June. Like Watts Bar 1, the unit will have a generating capacity of more than 1,100 MW.
Also the TVA board voted on May 5 to authorize TVA President and CEO Bill Johnson to sell the 1,600-acre Bellefonte nuclear plant property near Hollywood, Alabama.
The project is expected to be sold, in whole or in part, as part of an auction. Public comments formally submitted on the future of Bellefonte favored selling the property to an entity that would actually complete the nuclear plant. But some parties had urged TVA to keep the property and use it to develop renewable power sources.