November 1, 2015
Web Feature

New Watts Bar Reactor Gets Green Light for Operations

PNNL expertise enables NRC-granted reactor operating license in Tennessee

Watts Bar cooling towers.

On October 22, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)granted Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) Watts Bar Nuclear Generating Station a 40-year operating license for its new Unit 2 reactor. This is the first nuclear reactor to be granted an operating license by the NRC in two decades.

In reaching this banner day for the U.S. nuclear energy industry and the nation, the environmental review for the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor was conducted by the NRC with the assistance of a PNNL review team led by Becky Krieg.

For almost two decades, teams of PNNL subject matter experts have engaged in large multi-year, multi-task projects that support the licensing of new nuclear reactors in the United States. The sustained level of commitment, professionalism, and expertise at PNNL and NRC on the reactor licensing program has been uniformly high.

"This work includes review support for licensing new reactors, renewal of licenses for existing reactors and development of the Environmental Standard Review Plan," explained Eva Hickey, PNNL's NRC reactor licensing program manager. The latter is a series of instructions developed for NRC review team staff to use when conducting environmental reviews of applications related to nuclear power plants.

NRC selected PNNL as the principal technical resource in assessment of potential environmental impacts of siting new reactors. Typically, PNNL's key role in new reactor projects involves conducting environmental reviews and preparing environmental impact statements (EISs) for applications for early site permits or combined construction and operating licenses. The EIS tasks include in-depth analyses and evaluation of impacts from proposed and alternative actions on site-specific resources, including land and water use, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, socioeconomics and environmental justice, air quality, etc.

PNNL staff are currently conducting environmental reviews and preparing EISs for new reactors at three sites: Turkey Point (Florida), Bell Bend (Pennsylvania), and PSEG (Public Service Electric and Gas Company, New Jersey).

For more information on the Watts Bar license, read the NRC's press release.

Published: November 1, 2015

PNNL Research Team

Rebekah Krieg, Amanda Stegen, Tonya Keller, Beverly Miller, Joanne Duncan, Robert Bryce, Corey Duberstein, Katherine Cort, Tara O’Neil, Eva Eckert Hickey, Richard Traub, James V. Ramsdell, Jr, Steve Short, Amoret Bunn, Lara Aston,
Tom Anderson, Terri Miley, Georganne O’Connor, Nancy Kohn, Lubov Lavrentiev, Dave Payson, Susan Ennor, Michael Parker, Tomiann Parker, Sharon Johnson, Kathy Neiderhiser, Rose Zanders, Donna Austin-Workman, and Susan Loper

Research topics