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SEIS for the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor

The NNSA, a semi-autonomous agency within DOE, has prepared a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) to update the environmental analyses in DOE’s 1999 EIS for the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor (CLWR EIS; DOE/EIS–0288). The CLWR EIS addressed the production of tritium in Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) reactors using tritium-producing burnable absorber rods (TPBARs). In the Record of Decision (ROD) for the CLWR EIS, NNSA selected TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 1 and Sequoyah Units 1 and 2, located in Spring City and Soddy‐Daisy, Tennessee, respectively, for tritium production. TVA has been producing tritium for NNSA at Watts Bar Unit 1 since 2004.

At the time of the preparation of the 1999 EIS, it was estimated that tritium permeated through the wall of the TPBARs into the reactor coolant at a rate of one curie per TPBAR per year. Irradiation experience at Watts Bar has shown that the actual permeation rate is 3-4 curies per TPBAR per year (there are approximately 10,000 curies of tritium produced by a TPBAR). Therefore, the enclosed Final SEIS analyzed the potential environmental impacts from TPBAR irradiation at TVA sites based on a conservative (e.g., bounding) estimate of the tritium permeation rate, as well as a conservative interpretation of DOE/NNSA’s revised estimate of the maximum number of TPBARs necessary to support current tritium supply requirements.

A public comment period on the Draft SEIS was held between August 15, 2014, and September 22, 2014. Two public hearings were held on September 9 and 10, 2014, in Athens and Chattanooga, Tennessee, respectively. Based on public and stakeholder input the Final SEIS has been revised to reflect the most current information on several issues, including Tritium TPBAR irradiation quantities and the status of related NEPA documents. As part of those revisions, the document has been updated with the latest (2014) seismic map for eastern Tennessee, and the accident analyses in the Final SEIS have been updated to discuss the most recent seismic information, which has no effect on the prior conclusions in the Draft SEIS. NNSA responses to public comments received during the commenting period have been added to the document. The preferred alternative has been changed to Alternative 6, which would enable irradiating a total of up to 5,000 TPBARs at the Watts Bar and Sequoyah sites. This change in the preferred alternative is a result of recent changes in the estimate of tritium needs for national security.

Appendix F was updated to reflect that the maximum shipment quantity of TPBARs is 300 TPBARs, rather than 289 TPBARs. This did not significantly change the analysis, or conclusions in the final document. Finally, there have been minor editorial changes throughout the Final SEIS which have no effect on the environmental impact assessment in the document.

NEPA requires that a minimum 30-day waiting period from the publication of the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Final SEIS in the Federal Register be observed prior to issuing a Record of Decision (ROD).

For more information, please contact:
Mr. Curtis Chambellan
CLWR SEIS Document Manager
P.O. Box 5400
Albuquerque, NM 87185-5400
Phone: (505) 845-5073




Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor

Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor (DOE/EIS-0288)

2009 Final Environmental Impact Statement: Construction and Operation of a Tritium Extraction Facility at the Savannah River Site (DOE/EIS-0271)