DOE issues Record of Decision for Versatile Test Reactor’s final EIS

July 27, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
An artistic rendering of the Versatile Test Reactor. (Image: DOE)

The Department of Energy today issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (final VTR EIS; DOE/EIS-0542). The VTR will be a sodium-cooled, fast-neutron-spectrum test reactor that will enhance and accelerate research, development, and demonstration of innovative nuclear energy technologies critical to tackling the climate crisis, according to the DOE.

The VTR ROD and final VTR EIS are available for viewing or download here.

Potential impacts: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the DOE prepared the final VTR EIS to evaluate potential environmental impacts of alternatives for constructing and operating a VTR and the associated facilities required for postirradiation examination of test and experimental fuels and materials. The final VTR EIS also evaluates potential environmental impacts of options for VTR driver fuel production and the management of spent nuclear fuel from the VTR. (Driver fuel is the fuel that powers the reactor.)

The DOE has decided to implement its preferred alternative—the INL VTR Alternative—as described in the final VTR EIS. The INL VTR Alternative is to construct and operate the VTR at the Idaho National Laboratory Site and to establish, through modification and construction, colocated facilities for postirradiation examination of test products and for management of spent VTR driver fuel. As demonstrated in the final VTR EIS, implementation of the INL VTR Alternative would have small environmental consequences, according to the DOE.

Still searching: The DOE noted that at this time, no decision has been made on establishing VTR driver fuel production capabilities for feedstock preparation and fuel fabrication at the INL Site, the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, or a combination of the two sites.

Once a preferred alternative or option for VTR driver fuel production is identified, the DOE will announce its preference in a Federal Register notice. The DOE will then publish an ROD no sooner than 30 days after its announcement of a preferred alternative/option for VTR driver fuel production.

Questions here: Inquiries regarding the final VTR EIS or the ROD should be submitted to Mr. James Lovejoy, VTR EIS document manager, at either of the following addresses:

  • By mail: U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office, 1955 Fremont Avenue, MS 1235, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415
  • By e-mail: VTR.EIS@nuclear.energy.gov

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