NRC accepts application for TVA’s Clinch River nuclear project

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will announce in the Jan. 12 Federal Register that as of Dec. 30, it accepted for docketing an application from the Tennessee Valley Authority for an early site permit (ESP) on the Clinch River project in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

On May 12, 2016, TVA submitted the application. A notice of receipt and availability of this application was published in the Federal Register on June 23, 2016.

Under the law, an applicant may seek an ESP separate from the filing of an application for a construction permit (CP) or combined license (COL) for a nuclear power facility. The ESP process allows resolution of issues relating to siting early on in the process. At any time during the period of an ESP (up to 20 years), the permit holder may reference the permit in an application for a CP or COL.

The NRC staff will perform a detailed technical review of the application, and docketing of the ESP application does not preclude the NRC from requesting additional information from the applicant as the review proceeds, nor does it predict whether the commission will grant or deny the application. The commission will receive a report on the application from the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards. An Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel will conduct a hearing and will make an initial decision on the issuance of the permit for the commission. If the NRC then finds that the application meets the applicable standards and the commission’s regulations, and that required notifications to other agencies and bodies have been made, the  commission will issue an ESP.

The commission will also prepare an environmental impact statement for the proposed action. As part of the environmental scoping process, the NRC staff intends to hold a public scoping meeting. Detailed information regarding this meeting will be included in a future Federal Register notice. Finally, the commission will announce, in a Federal Register notice, the opportunity to petition for leave to intervene in the hearing required for this application.

The project site is located in the City of Oak Ridge, and is the site of the former Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project. The site is adjacent to the Clinch River arm of the Watts Bar Reservoir.

TVA has not yet selected a reactor design to be constructed. However, to facilitate the NRC’s determination regarding suitability of the site for new nuclear units, TVA provided a set of bounding plant parameters, referred to as the plant parameter envelope (PPE). The PPE was developed based on four small modular reactor (SMR) designs.

The PPE is based on construction and operation of two or more SMRs with a maximum rated thermal power for a single unit of 800 MWt. The combined nuclear generating capacity from the site is not to exceed 2420 MWt (800 MWe).

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.