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NRC holding public meetings on proposed Clinch River Nuclear Site

(Oak Ridge Today) The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will have two public meetings on June 5 to discuss the draft environmental impact statement for the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge.

The two public meetings will be in Kingston, and they will be transcribed, the NRC said.

They will allow the public to comment on the draft environmental impact statement, or DEIS, for the early site permit application for the Clinch River Nuclear Site, where small modular nuclear reactors could eventually be built. The DEIS is available here.

The meetings are scheduled from 1-4 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at Noah’s Event Venue at 1200 Ladd Landing Boulevard in Kingston.

“Interested members of the public will have approximately three to five minutes to speak depending on the number of persons who wish to participate,” a meeting notice said. “Members of the public may register in advance to present oral comments by contacting Ms. Tamsen Dozier at (301) 415-2272 or by email to Tamsen.Dozier@nrc.gov.”

The NRC was in Oak Ridge last May to seek public comments on what environmental matters it should consider during its review of the early site permit application for the Clinch River Nuclear Site in west Oak Ridge. Those two meetings were part of the process used to develop an environmental impact statement. The Tennessee Valley Authority submitted an application in May 2016 for the early site permit for small modular nuclear reactors, or SMRs, at the Clinch River Site in west Oak Ridge. The early site permit application is for two or more SMRs. The NRC accepted the application for “docketing and detailed technical review” in December 2016.

As of last May, a specific reactor design has not been selected, although it’s not clear if that has changed. At that time, Oak Ridge Today reported that TVA had identified parameters for a surrogate nuclear plant, and the NRC would use them to evaluate the site’s suitability for building and operating a new nuclear plant.

Officials have previously said it could be a decade or so before the SMRs start operating— and that’s assuming all goes according to plan.

TVA is evaluating the possibility of building the small modular reactors, or SMRs, at the 1,200-acre Clinch River Site. That site is in west Oak Ridge just north of the Clinch River and Interstate 40, south of Heritage Center (the former K-25 site), and between Highway 95 and Highway 58 in a bend of the Clinch River.

Officials had previously said the review of TVA’s application for an early site permit could take about three years, and maybe longer if any groups raise legal challenges. There were expected to be at least two more public meetings once TVA meets the basic requirements to have its early site permit application reviewed. Officials had said the NRC would come back to ask for community input on environmental issues.

Small modular reactors, or SMRs, would be smaller than traditional nuclear power plants, and they would produce less power. All of TVA’s traditional nuclear power plants generate at least 1,100 megawatts, compared to the 80-200 megawatts of a proposed SMR. Still, SMRs could provide enough electricity to power several cities the size of Oak Ridge. One hundred megawatts is enough to power about 60,000 homes. (Oak Ridge has about 12,000 homes.)

Unlike a traditional nuclear power plant, SMRs could be produced in a factory and transferred to a site by trucks or railroads. They wouldn’t have the hyperbolic cooling tower associated with traditional nuclear power plants. But they would still use low-enriched uranium.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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