Potential Use of Mixed Oxide Fuel in TVA Reactors Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and TVA have issued a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) on the disposal of surplus plutonium for public comments. See below for instruction on how to submit comments. The comment period has been extended to October 10, 2012.
The Surplus Plutonium Disposition Program
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) within the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has prepared a draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) that considers several alternatives for the disposition of an additional 13.1 metric tons (MT) of weapons-grade plutonium declared surplus to national defense needs. In its earlier 1999 environmental impact statement (EIS), DOE decided to make 34 metric tons of the surplus material available as mixed oxide fuel for use in commercial nuclear reactors generating electricity. That decision supported U.S. policy, efforts and international agreements to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and render the associated nuclear materials, including plutonium, unusable for weapons purposes.
The present SEIS is being prepared to update the 1999 EIS. The draft SEIS refines the quantity and types of surplus plutonium, evaluates additional alternatives (including additional pit disassembly and conversion options), and considers TVA reactors as potential users of mixed oxide fuel. Click here to view the draft SEIS made available on the DOE’s website.
TVA is a formal cooperating agency on the SEIS, and is considering potential use of mixed oxide (plutonium-based) fuel in its reactors at Sequoyah and Browns Ferry Nuclear Plants in Hamilton County, Tennessee, and Limestone County, Alabama, respectively. The draft SEIS evaluates the potential use of mixed oxide fuel in TVA’s reactors as well as generic commercial reactors.
In 2010 TVA entered into an Interagency Agreement with DOE to investigate the potential for use of mixed oxide fuel in TVA reactors. However, there is neither a TVA obligation nor a decision at this time to use mixed oxide fuel. TVA will use mixed oxide fuel in its reactors only if it is determined to be operationally and environmentally safe, economically beneficial to TVA customers and licensed for use by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
Opportunities for Public Involvement and How to Comment
The formal USEPA Notice of Availability (NOA) for the draft SEIS appeared in the Federal Register on July 27, 2012, beginning a 60-day period in which DOE would accept comments on the draft document. DOE also published a more detailed NOA with additional information in the Federal Register on that date. On September 6, 2012, DOE published a Notice in the Federal Register extending the period for public comment an additional fifteen days to October 10, 2012 as well as adding a public meeting in Espanola, NM.
Please direct written comments on the draft SPD Supplemental EIS to: Ms. Sachiko McAlhany, SPD Supplemental EIS NEPA Document Manager, U. S. Department of Energy, P.O. Box 2324, Germantown, MD 20874-2324. Comments may also be submitted via e-mail to email@example.com or by toll-free fax to 877-865-0277. DOE and TVA will give equal weight to written, e-mail, fax, telephone, and oral comments.
Questions regarding the SEIS process and requests to be placed on the SPD Supplemental EIS mailing list should be directed to Ms. McAlhany by any of the means given above or by calling toll-free 877-344-0513.
Five public meetings will be held to receive public comment on the draft SEIS near the affected DOE and TVA facilities in South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama and New Mexico. Click here to view the dates, times and locations of these meetings as made available on the DOE website. This information will also be announced in local media near the facilities. Within the Power Service Area of TVA, public meeting dates and locations are as follows:
September 11, 2012 - Chattanooga Convention Center, 1150 Carter Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402.
September 13, 2012, Calhoun Community College, Decatur Campus, Aerospace Building, 6250 Highway 31 North, Tanner, AL 35671
Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement
Relevant Resources about Mixed Oxide
Further information is available at the DOE and NRC links below on:
What is mixed oxide fuel?
Background to the mixed oxide fuel program
Description of the SEIS alternatives under consideration
Public involvement and the NEPA process
Regulatory involvement and oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
TVA involvement in the program
Click on the following links to view relevant documents to date for the SEIS, including:
- EPA – Notice of Availability 2012-18373
- Department of Energy – Notice of Availability 2012-18281
- Amended Notice of Intent (January 2012)
- Amended Notice of Intent (July 2010)
- Notice of Intent (March 2007)
For Further Information about Agency NEPA Processes
For general information about the DOE NEPA process, please contact: Ms. Carol Borgstrom, Director, Office of NEPA Policy and Compliance (GC-54), U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20585, (202) 586-4600, or leave a message at 1-800-472-2756. Additional information regarding DOE NEPA activities and access to many of DOE's NEPA documents are available through the DOE NEPA Web site at http://nepa.energy.gov.
For further information on TVA’s participation as a cooperating agency on the NEPA review, or TVA’s NEPA process contact: Bruce L. Yeager, Program Manager (NEPA Support and Special Initiatives), Tennessee Valley Authority, 400 W. Summit Hill Drive, WT 11D, Knoxville, Tennessee 37902. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 865-632-8051. Fax: 865-632-3451