Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor – Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
In August, 2014, the Nuclear National Security Administration (NNSA) and TVA issued the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor (CLWR) for public comments. The comment period closed on September 22, 2014. NNSA is now preparing the Final SEIS.
The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE issued an EIS in 1999 on the CLWR program, which addressed the production of tritium in TVA reactors using tritium-producing burnable absorber rods (TPBARs). In the Record of Decision (ROD) for the CLWR EIS, DOE selected TVA’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 1 and Sequoyah Nuclear Plant Units 1 and 2, located in Spring City and Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, respectively, for tritium production. TVA was a cooperating agency in the development of the CLWR EIS, and issued its ROD on the CLWR program in 2000. TVA has been producing tritium for NNSA at Watts Bar Unit 1 since 2004.
At the time of preparation of the 1999 EIS, it was estimated that tritium permeated through the wall of the TPBARs into the reactant coolant at a rate of 1 curie per TPBAR per year (there are approximately 10,000 curies of tritium produced by a TPBAR). Irradiation experience at Watts Bar has shown that the actual permeation rate is 3-4 curies per TPBAR per year. In other words, although the TPBAR captures 99.96 percent of the tritium produced, it is still absorbed at a rate lower than was originally analyzed. Because of this and other changes to the program, DOE/NNSA determined that a supplement to the 1999 Final EIS and ROD was necessary. The results of the analyses presented in the SEIS indicate that there would be no significant increase in radiation exposure associated with TPBAR irradiation for facility workers or the public. For all analyzed alternatives, estimated exposures would remain well below regulatory limits. TVA is a cooperating agency in the development of the SEIS. Following the completion of the Final SEIS, TVA anticipates issuing a ROD.
The Draft SEIS, as well as the 1999 CLWR EIS, are available on the NNSA website.
The 2000 TVA ROD on the CLWR program is available here.
For general information on the CLWR program and the Draft SEIS, contact:
Mr. Curtis Chambellan
CLWR SEIS Document Manager
P.O. Box 5400
Albuquerque, NM 87185-5400
Phone: (505) 845-5073
For further information on TVA’s participation as a cooperating agency, contact:
Dr. Charles P. Nicholson
Tennessee Valley Authority
400 W. Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D
Knoxville, TN 37902
Phone: (865) 632-3582