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Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor – Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

The Nuclear National Security Administration (NNSA) and TVA have issued the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor (CLWR) for public comments.  Please submit comments by September 22, 2014.  See below for instruction on how to submit comments.

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.

Submitting Comments

Comments on the SEIS should be submitted to NNSA by September 22, 2014.  See the NNSA website for detailed information on submitting comments.  Comments may also be submitted at two public hearings:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014, in Athens, Tennessee

Wednesday, September 10, 2014, in Chattanooga, Tennessee

See the NNSA website for details on the public hearings.


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




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