Since the 1980s, PNNL has provided scientifically credible, legally defensible, and consistently useful documentation for siting and licensing U.S. and international nuclear power reactor facilities.
PNNL scientists conduct environmental reviews for new and existing nuclear reactors as well as fossil and renewable energy facilities. They work on behalf of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) at the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Defense, and other agencies.
PNNL can call upon hundreds of scientists and engineers, in every technical specialty necessary, to complete the scientifically challenging and legally demanding National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document. This includes experts in health physics, waste management, ecology, hydrology, geology, meteorology, air quality, land use, socioeconomics, cost benefit, environmental justice, alternative sites and alternative energy, need for power, human health and safety, transportation, accident analysis, cultural and historic resources, public relations, technical writing and editing, document production, project management, and quality assurance.
Licensing and standards
PNNL’s experience in environmental impact statements, safety analysis, and licensing includes:
- Assisting the NRC in developing NEPA-compliant standards for new nuclear plant designs
- Assisting the NRC in developing new standards for safety reviews and evaluating safety of plant designs
- Drafting design-specific review standards for small modular reactors (SMRs)
- Leading the NRC environmental review for Watts Bar 2 (the first new operating license in 20 years)
- Evaluating Tennessee Valley Authority's Clinch River SMR site, and the Vogtle and V.C. Summer plants (the first U.S. builds in more than 34 years)
- Leading safety analysis and probabilistic risk assessment for the DOE-NE Next Generation Nuclear Plant project, designed to demonstrate a high temperature gas-cooled reactor
- Supporting DOE in addressing options for mitigating contaminated water in Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant
- Updating NRC fire protection standards for nuclear power plants.
Its diversified team gives PNNL a depth of expertise to support the siting of nuclear facilities. The PNNL team recently provided technical support to the NRC by updating Regulatory Guide 4.2, which defines the standards for siting and preparing environmental reports for nuclear power plants.
PNNL staff skillfully bring in stakeholders. They have arranged and facilitated hundreds of public meetings, including those about contentious environmental issues. They also track stakeholder comments and incorporate them into the record of these complex decisions. PNNL developed the Comment Response Database (CRD), a knowledge-management tool developed for the NRC to support the NEPA public comment process.
This internet-accessible, multi-user system has processed tens of thousands of comments. It provides a central location for storing correspondence, tracking comments and responses, managing document changes, and exporting data reports. The CRD also provides simultaneous access for all authorized users and archives past project records, which are easily searchable.