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US releases environmental study for new Idaho test reactor

Construction of the proposed reactor depends on funding from Congress
Image courtesy Idaho National Laboratory
Image courtesy Idaho National Laboratory(KMVT)
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 1:40 PM MDT
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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. officials have released an environmental study for a proposed nuclear test reactor to be built in eastern Idaho that backers say is needed to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants.

The U.S. Department of Energy earlier this month released the environmental impact statement for the Versatile Test Reactor that would be the first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades.

It would give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Such reactors are called fast reactors.

Plans call for building the reactor at the Energy Department’s 890-square-mile (2,300-square-kilometer) site that includes the Idaho National Laboratory by the end of 2026.

The environmental impact statement notes that the reactor would produce spent nuclear fuel beyond 2035, going past a deadline the Energy Department has with Idaho concerning spent nuclear fuel at the site. The document states that the Energy Department would explore possible approaches with Idaho regarding that issue.

Construction of the proposed reactor depends on funding from Congress.

On a related front, scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory earlier this year completed a rare overhaul of the Energy Department’s Advanced Test Reactor, one of the world’s most powerful nuclear test reactors.

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