The Department of Energy today released its final environmental assessment (EA) and a proposed finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the design, construction, and operation of the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE) at Idaho National Laboratory. The draft EA was released earlier this year, in March, for four weeks of public comments.
“Any potential impact associated with these activities would not significantly affect the quality of the human environment,” the DOE stated in its FONSI.
The public is invited to comment on the proposed FONSI now through August 31 by mail or email. Mailed comments should be addressed to Willettia Amos, U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho Operations Office, 1955 Fremont Avenue, Idaho Falls, ID 83415-1235. Emailed comments should be sent to MCRE@id.doe.gov.
More on MCRE: As a liquid-fueled, fast-spectrum, chloride salt–fueled experimental reactor, MCRE (pronounced “McCree”) is a project of Southern Company and TerraPower, funded in part by a Risk Reduction award announced in December 2020 under the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. Southern and TerraPower have partnered with Core Power, Orano Federal Services, and 3M for “technical cost share support” for MCRE. While it will not require a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the project is intended to increase the knowledge of key phenomena that would be necessary for NRC licensing of TerraPower’s grid-scale Molten Chloride Fast Reactor. Southern announced an agreement with the DOE to build MCRE at INL in collaboration with TerraPower and others in November 2021.
The preferred location for the MCRE project is inside the National Reactor Innovation Center’s Laboratory for Operation and Testing in the United States (LOTUS) testbed, which will be located in the former Zero-Power Physics Reactor cell at INL’s Materials and Fuels Center.
“MCRE will be the world’s first test of a fast-spectrum, salt-fueled reactor design,” said Kathryn Huff, the DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy, in a department release. “This experiment will help advance an unexplored class of reactors, and the environmental assessment is an important step toward demonstrating the technology.”