KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Valley Authority was recognized by the Nuclear Energy Institute for its work to engage the public in the issue of a right-sized emergency planning zone for potential small modular reactors at the Clinch River Nuclear Site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. TVA’s innovative approach was selected by NEI for a Top Innovative Practice award for TVA’s exemplary efforts in the U.S. nuclear industry.
“Technology innovation is part of TVA’s mission,” said Dan Stout, TVA director of Nuclear Technology Innovation. “Maintaining positive engagement with the public is important for our long-term success in exploring new nuclear technology and the innovation that will make it possible.”
For more than 40 years, regulations on reactors like those used by TVA and other utilities to generate electricity have required a 10-mile emergency planning zone. Smaller, advanced nuclear reactor designs do not require as large a zone. Following TVA’s work to engage the public and community leaders in learning about safe and economical emergency planning zones, the NRC approved this method for the Clinch River site application.
“TVA’s work paves the way for others in the nuclear sector to potentially implement scalable emergency planning zones, with some already using TVA’s model to develop their own approaches for emergency planning zone applications,” said Stout.
TVA has been exploring the possibility of siting a small modular reactor at the Clinch River site since 2014 and acquired an Early Site Permit in 2019, an important step toward demonstrating advanced reactors at this location. A chief factor in realizing the economic benefits of a small modular reactor or advanced reactor hinges on whether the reactor could employ several risk-informed attributes, such as an appropriately sized emergency planning zone for such a facility.
The TVA Nuclear Technology Innovation team developed an outreach plan to demonstrate TVA’s commitment to protecting the public and that a scalable zone performs as well as or better than the 10-mile zone used for existing reactors.
Members of this team recognized in the TIP award are located in the Chattanooga area and include:
Engaging members of the public who live near the Clinch River site was particularly important to the effort. TVA representatives actively sought public input in the project and provided immediate feedback. Inviting all residents within a 1.5-mile radius of the site, TVA held an event where employees and the public could engage in a candid dialogue. Attendees were also offered small bus tours of the Clinch River site. During this event, TVA received valuable feedback from residents. “We’ve established a relationship with plant neighbors and look forward to maintaining that relationship long-term as we explore advanced nuclear for the Clinch River site,” said Stout.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies, and state and local governments, with economic development and job creation.