US plans to build nuclear test ‘fast’ reactor

The Department of Energy said it will develop an Environmental Impact Statement to study the impacts of building a ‘Versatile Test Reactor’

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The US is planning to build a new “fast” reactor to test future fuels and materials the industry is designing for nuclear power plants.

The Department of Energy said it will develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to study the impacts of building a ‘Versatile Test Reactor’ to boost the nation’s low carbon sector.

Two locations currently under consideration for the reactor are Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

In addition, the Idaho National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site are two locations that are being considered for the fabrication of the fuel needed to run the reactor.

Public comments on the environmental review are being invited until 4th September 2019.

Rita Baranwal, US Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy said: “DOE needs to develop this capability on an accelerated schedule to avoid further delay in the United States’ ability to develop and deploy advanced nuclear energy technologies.

“If this capability is not available to US innovators as soon as possible, the ongoing shift of nuclear technology dominance to other international states such as China and the Russian Federation will accelerate, to the detriment of the US nuclear industrial sector. Beginning the NEPA process at this time will ensure that all environmental factors are considered before the department makes a final decision to move forward with the project.”

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