Federal regulators approve early site permit for small TVA reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee

File staff Photo by Angela Lewis Foster / The Tennessee Valley Authority building (TVA) in downtown Chattanooga

Federal regulators have approved the nation's first early site permit for a small modular reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which submitted its request three years ago, is expected to obtain a site permit in the next few days to potentially construct and operate a new, smaller reactor capable of generating 800 megawatts on the site of the abandoned Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Oak Ridge.

By a 3-1 vote, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted this week to issue the 20-year site permit for the 935-acre site as an acceptable location for TVA to potentially construct and operate small modular reactors.

The NRC has yet to approve any of the proposed new small nuclear reactor designs and TVA has no immediate need for additional power generation. But TVA and the U.S.