A new nuclear test reactor is needed as part of an effort to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants, the U.S. Department of Energy said this week.
The federal agency said it will prepare an environmental impact statement as part of the process to build the test reactor in Idaho or Tennessee by the end of 2025. Public comments on the environmental review are being taken through Sept. 4.
The Versatile Test Reactor would be the first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades and give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron spectrum” testing capability. Such reactors are called fast reactors.
“This testing capability is essential for the United States to modernize its nuclear energy infrastructure and for developing transformational nuclear energy technologies that reduce waste generation and enhance nuclear security,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry in a statement.
U.S. residents have been wary of nuclear power since the core from Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island underwent a partial meltdown in 1979 in one of the nation’s worst nuclear mishaps. That was followed by a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploding and burning in 1986. In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan where the cores of three reactors suffered meltdowns after cooling systems failed.
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