Small Modular Reactors - Frequently Asked Questions


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Reactor Operations and Safety (click title for more information)

What are some of the key similarities and differences between the NuScale reactor and a traditional light water reactor?

 The NuScale reactor uses the same basic fuel and core configuration as traditional commercial reactors—the core and amount of fuel are just proportionally reduced. The NuScale reactor is about 20 times smaller than a typical commercial reactor, so its components could be centrally manufactured and transported to power plant sites. Also, the SMR’s cooling systems are vastly simplified and require no pumps, power or human intervention to keep people safe during unplanned events or conditions.  These inherent safety features also help to significantly reduce the calculated Emergency Planning Zonearound the facility in case of a worst case accident.

 

How can the public be sure this first-of-a-kind reactor is safe?

 NuScale has performed extensive testing of the critical design features associated with heat removal from the core during operations and simulated accident conditions.  This testing has taken place over the past 13 years in NuScale's one-third-scale prototype in Corvallis Oregon. The design and results of this testing will be thoroughly reviewed and certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission before a construction and operating licenseis issued to UAMPS to build the facility.  In addition, many aspects of the NuScale design, such as the fuel and reactor materials, have been proven over fifty years of operation in the U.S.

 

 Electricity Generation (click title for more information)

How will the CFPP contribute to energy diversity of the region and how will itreduce CO2 emissions?

 Today, eastern Idaho’s electricity is generated predominantly from hydro (>50%) and gas or coal (~35%), with the remaining coming from other renewables (<10%) and nuclear (<5%). The Carbon-Free Power Project would add more baseload (24-7) carbon emission-free power to the mix and reduce our regions long term dependence on coal and natural gas power generation.

 

How much electricity will each unit generate?

 Each module is rated at 50 MWe with the plant containing up to 12 modules for a total of 600 MWe. 

 

Environmental Impacts (click title for more information)

Water Usage - How much water will the CFPP require for cooling during operation? 

  The site water consumption is largely driven by the plant operation cooling needs, which will be designed for the specific selected site.  Until the cooling system design path is selected, overall site water consumption cannot be confirmed.  For the option that uses the highest amount of water, full wet cooling,  a NuScale600 MWe facility (12 units at 50 MWe each) will have a total daily water usage estimated to be as high as 15.7 million gallons used for heat rejection.    Approximately 400,000 gallons per day are required for all other uses, including make-up fuel and reactor pool evaporative losses, potable water usage, firewater, and other auxiliary system water uses considered.  Note that this is a highest water use scenario;  other options are being evaluated with lower water usage rates.Safety and Security

 

What design and safety features are in place to prevent and/or detect any leakage from the reactor cooling or spent fuel storage pools?

 The NuScale/UAMPS materials describe the spent fuel storage and reactor pools as stainless steel lined concrete pools.  The design of these pools includes a reactor and spent fuel leakage detection system to provide for collection of any water leaking from a weld in a pool liner and allows detection of the leakage to facilitate appropriate corrective actions.  The leakage detection system consists of a series of drain channels between the pool liner and concrete base mat and pool walls of the reactor building.  This system allows for the early detection, localization, and correction of leaks in the pool liner.  Leaks can be repaired via a variety of industry standard methods depending on the location and nature of the leak.

 

Safety and Security (click title for more information)

What is the regulatory approval process and predicted timeline?

  Once NuScale submits the Design Certification Application in late 2016, the goal is for the NRC to deliver a review and approval of that design in about 40 months.  UAMPS will also have to submit a license application and complete an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed location.  The approval process for both of those documents is expected to require approximately 36 to 48 months to complete.Socio-Political

 

Security - Will the facility use the INL security force or would a separate force be used?  

DOE provides general physical security (access) for its site boundary, but will not be responsible for security on the UAMPS reactor site. DOE and UAMPS will develop agreements to define procedures such as emergency response and security. UAMPS may install its own security system for its location or may arrange with DOE for use of INL support services on an advance cost reimbursement basis, which means UAMPS would pay for such services in advance.  The NRC will regulate and inspect the plant security per federal regulations.

 

Socio-Political (click title for more information)

What is the predicted overall annual economic impact to the region?

 NuScale and UAMPS have not yet completed specific projections for the overall economic impact to the Idaho Falls area, however, it is expected that the economic impact to the local area will be substantial. Annual salaries for plant operations will be in excess of $30 million. Based on Nuclear Energy Institute studies of existing nuclear plants, every dollar spent by the plant will create $1.04 in the local economy and $1.18 in the state economy.  Added to this are ongoing purchases of equipment and supplies; expenditures for fringes, which are not included in the direct salary figure; local, state, and federal taxes; community outreach support for local charities and non-profits; and a boost to virtually every component of the local service economy. 

 

What does the site use agreement accomplish and what are the next steps?

 The Department of Energy Use Permit, i.e., site use agreement or “Permit,” gives UAMPS the right to choose a location within the DOE’s site boundaries for the CFPP (Phase I) and then to construct and operate the CFPP on that site (Phase II).  If all of the conditions of the Permit are met, UAMPS will have the right to use the CFPP site for a period of 99 years from the date the reactor starts commercial operation.

At the present time UAMPS is operating under Phase I.  UAMPS has identified a preferred site and DOE has notified UAMPS that this site is acceptable.  DOE will make a final decision on granting UAMPS rights to use the CFPP site to construct and operate the reactor.  The final decision will be in the form of a Record of Decision under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act). The date this final decision is issued will mark the end of Phase I and the beginning of Phase II.

Under Phase II, UAMPS will have the right to use the CFPP site to construct, operate and eventually decommission the reactor and CFPP site.

The Permit gives UAMPS a period of 10 years from the start of Phase I to obtain all the necessary NRC licenses and begin commercial operation of the reactor. [NOTE:  The proposed schedule can be found in the NuScale presentation at: https://adamswebsearch2.nrc.gov/webSearch2/view?AccessionNumber=ML16100A000]