US Regulators Give Approval to Start Up First New Nuclear Reactor in 20 Years

I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal’s EnergyJournal email list and today there was a news item reporting that the Tennessee Valley Authority received approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to start fueling a new reactor with uranium at its Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant near Spring City, Tennessee. This is apparently the first time in 20 years that a new nuclear reactor has been put into operation.

“NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said his agency “is satisfied TVA’s work on the reactor meets all the relevant requirements for safe operation.” The reactor should reach full power within a few months, said TVA Chief Executive Bill Johnson.”

See more here.

This has happened without much fanfare — today is the first I have heard of this. Nuclear power was once such a hot button issue that it would generate lots of protest and outrage over fears of hazardous radiation; however, lately it has become somewhat less controversial, I think partly because some environmentalists see it as our best option to generate carbon-free power.

Still, with the promise of LENR as a much safer and cheaper option for generating clean power in large quantities, I wonder if this will be the last time a new nuclear fission reactor will start up in the United States.

  • Omega Z

    Those Brilliant Masters at work.

    New Madrid fault line, a sleeping giant. The most powerful series of earthquakes in U.S. history. The 1st on Dec. 16th 1811(7.5) followed by over 2000 aftershocks some measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale. These aftershocks continued several months into 1812. The primary quakes lasted 10/12 minutes non stop.

    It’s said they rang bells in Boston, rattled & shook the white house in D.C.. and homes along the Gulf coast. Damaged tall buildings in Charleston, S.C. & toppled chimneys in Canada. And according to eye witnesses, even caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a time, not to mention substantially changing it’s course. This Fault line crisscrosses the Mississippi river 5 times.

    Quake energy in this zone spreads out very efficiently here due it’s geological makeup. It tends towards liquefaction kind of like quicksand. A Quake in this zone will effect a 10/20 times larger area then a Quake of the same magnitude in California.

    The worst case for the New Madrid fault zone is a sequence of several earthquakes 7.0 & greater with dozens of aftershocks in the 6.0 or greater and 1000’s of 4’s & 5’s over several months as this fault zone has a history of. The Damage just keeps on coming & accumulating.

    FEMA’s scenario indicates as much as a Trillion$ in damage would be caused based on a 6.7 magnitude quake. A 7 or 8 scale would be much worse. Note there are 15 Nuclear plants built over the fault line. A quake 7 or greater would envelope a dozen more in the primary damage zone.

    This zone is a Major oil & N-gas pipeline hub with many crossing the river. An 1811/12 scenario means most of these will be severed. Refineries will have no oil for refining. No Fuel for transport. No N-gas for N-gas power plants. Locks/Dams & Hydro power plants will be down with possibly many dam failures.

    Note, A guesstimate in an 1811 type scenario is 100K will perish in the 1st quake in the immediate zone & additional deaths in other states. Government has problems dealing with singular state catastrophes. This will cover at least a dozen states.

    States that escaped physical damage would still likely be paralyzed for weeks due to the interruption of crucial supply and communication lines & No operable cell towers. Bridges left standing would be closed until inspected. This would be New Orleans Katrina 100 fold with a potential dozen or more Fukushima’s at once.

    No power, no fuel, no communications & only a few days fuel on hand for emergency generators to keep the nuclear fuel for all those plants cooled. There will be 500 to 1000 miles to transport fuel & transporting fuel to supply the transports. Over roads that may not be passable & bridges that no longer stand.

    If your 1 who doesn’t care for the U.S., Keep in mind, 25% of the worlds GDP just fell off the economic grid. It get’s worse. Recall a short U.S. crop in 2011 that caused major food price increases followed by the Arab spring. If those Nuclear plants go Fukushima, The Worlds bread basket is gone for many decades, Maybe centuries.

    This wont be a U.S. tragedy. It will be a World tragedy. Not only massive world food shortages, but Radiation that doesn’t recognize borders. The Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic & beyond. But by all means, they should build more nuclear plants in this zone.

    The New Madrid Earthquake That Will Divide The United States In Half
    http://endoftheamericandream.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/New-Madrid-Fault-Earthquake-Zone.jpg

    • builditnow

      All true from what I read. Witnesses told of liquefied sand / soil squirting up out of the ground, “sand volcanoes”. The Mississippi flowed backwards (or appeared to) and a new lake was formed. The evidence of past quakes can be seen in prior sand layers created by similar quakes. The large earth quake repeat rate is about 400 years. FEMA reports that a 7.7 earthquake in this area could result in “the highest economic losses due to a natural disaster in the United States”. Personally I think Yellow Stone could beat it several times over. The nuclear power stations could well be spewing out their internals.
      Let’s build more of these just to be sure we make a real mess.

  • we want LENR Fusione Fredda

    Why do I get the feeling that I want to bang my head against the wall? You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink…

  • Alan DeAngelis
  • Eyedoc

    Soooo….. was there any discussion/report regarding the waste disposal plan ??? I suppose they could always let it just sit on the shores of a precious fresh water source, until contamination occurs. Like Michigan does. ( yeh, the Japanese have nothing on us !!)

  • Carl Wilson


    lately it [nuclear power] has become somewhat less controversial, I think partly because
    some environmentalists see it as our best option to generate
    carbon-free power.”
    “Some” and some of them high profile, but more broadly the economics of nuclear power are becoming increasingly impossible to justify.

  • Omega Z

    The Watts Bar power plants began in the early 70’s so they are 40 years in the making.

    The TVA-Tennessee Valley Authority, completed the 1st of 2 reactors in the 90’s. The 2nd was shelved in the 80’s when it was about 80% complete. The TVA decided to continue construction of reactor #2 in 2007. This is Pre-Fukushima technology & safety standards. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from “The Government”

    The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is a “federally owned” corporation in the United States. No surprise they received approval from another Government agency, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Approval had been a given before this plant was ever completed. Actually, it will be in operation before safety concerns are even addressed. Thus if a couple Billion$ more is needed, it doesn’t appear in the over budget costs.

    Future Nuclear projects will be automatically licensed for operation before the 1st shovel hits the dirt. Perhaps we should also approve new drugs before they are even a concept. Like new Nuclear plant construction, we will just automatically assume they are safe on completion.

  • Gerard McEk

    When Andrea Rossi finallizes his test in Feb/March next year positively, this reactor will never reach its criticality, it probably will not even be built

    • US_Citizen71

      It has been built, they were just given the go ahead to add the fuel rods, it will be sending out power by Christmas.

  • pg

    A 500 meters meteor produces lots of carbon free energy too when it impacts an ocean…

    • Jarea

      Why do you say that? do you expect any imminent impact? XD

      • pg

        No, just pointing out in a (supposedly) sarcastic way the stupidity of measuring a form of energy based just on that parameter.

  • Jarea

    I really don’t understand that. They should just speed up the adoption of LENR, the government should take that more seriously. Investing in a new fission reactor is just more work for tomorrow. In any case, i think LENR also promise to transmute all radiactive waste into more safe materials.
    What they should do is just invest in promising technologies as LENR.

  • http://www.animpossibleinvention.com/ Mats Lewan

    BTW, check also this:
    China Details Next-Gen Nuclear Reactor Program
    http://www.technologyreview.com/news/542526/china-details-next-gen-nuclear-reactor-program/

    • roseland67

      Mats,
      As I recall, this was reactor based on Thorium, correct?
      But it was discontinued, because the “waste” had no weapons grade plutonium?