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Tennessee Valley Authority headquarters and TVA logo

A week after scrapping plans to finish its mothballed nuclear power plant in Hollywood, Ala., the Tennessee Valley Authority today submitted an Early Site Permit Application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate a new and smaller type of nuclear plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

TVA is proposing to build two or more small modular reactors on the 1,200-acre sites of the abandoned Clinch River Breeder Reactor site near the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Anderson County, Tenn.

In a statement today, TVA said small modular reactors "offer clean energy technology that, if deployed, would play a key role in TVA's continued mission of energy, environment and economic development." Although the new reactors won't be finished for another decade, TVA became the first utility in America today to explore the new and smaller reactor design, which backers say can be partially built in a factory and which can rely upon passive and safer designs than the current crop of larger commercial nuclear plants.

 "This submittal is a key milestone for our company and the nuclear industry,"  TVA Chief Nuclear Officer Joe Grimes said in a statement today. "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."

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TVA scrapped plans a week ago for its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, which was never finished in Alabama. TVA is putting up the unfinished plant for sale, in part, because TVA doesn't expect to need the power Bellefonte can generate for any time in the next two decades.

But TVA officials said they are still pursuing small modular reactors as part of TVAs mission to promote energy research and development.

The NRC will use the application for the SMRs in Oak Ridge to review site safety, environmental and emergency preparedness requirements for potential construction of the next-generation nuclear technology.

Dan Stout, TVA senior manager for small modular reactors, said TVA is "still several years away from any potential construction decision" for the new SMRs, which are being supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.

"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," he 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.

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