The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found no safety concerns that would prevent the Tennessee Valley Authority from building next-generation nuclear plants at its Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The NRC has completed a final safety evaluation report for the TVA’s early site permit application. 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 said. “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.
According to TVA, the Clinch River site would house small modular reactors in a facility which would be less expensive to build and offer a shorter construction period.
The US Department of Energy is supporting the TVA project through an agreement which can reimburse the utility for up to 50 of eligible costs.
TVA said it is committed to nuclear power as a source of low-cost, carbon-free electricity and SMRs could provide an important option for clean baseload energy for TVA’s generation portfolio. “SMRs offer potential improvements in safety and security, reduced construction time, less capital expenditure and lower financing costs than large reactors,” the company said.
The company operates the Browns Ferry, Sequoyah and Watts Bar nuclear power stations, which between them have seven nuclear power units.