In February 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy announced its plans to build a Versatile Test Reactor, or VTR. Due to the very high neutron flux provided by VTR, the irradiation time for testing materials can be reduced by an order of magnitude compared to what is currently available today.
This capability will help accelerate the development of advanced nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation, and sensors. It will also allow DOE to modernize its essential nuclear energy research and development infrastructure and conduct crucial advanced technology and materials testing necessary to re-energize the U.S. nuclear energy industry. Such capabilities are necessary to reestablish the United States as a global leader in nuclear science and innovation while helping the us reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. An important step to achieving this goal is building the VTR in a manner that is protective of the public and the environment. To that end, the Department has published the Final VTR Environmental Impact Statement (Final VTR EIS) (DOE/EIS-0542).
The project is being led by Idaho National Laboratory in partnership with five national laboratories (Argonne, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Savannah River) and includes a host of industry and university partners.
Environmental Impact Statement
The public is invited to read the Final VTR Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Final VTR EIS, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, analyzes potential impacts of the VTR alternatives and options for reactor fuel production on various environmental and community resources. In the Final EIS, DOE identifies construction and operation of the VTR at the Idaho National Laboratory as its preferred alternative. To the extent possible, existing facilities (modified as necessary) would be used for the VTR support facilities. DOE has not identified a preferred option for where it would perform reactor fuel production.
In preparing the Final EIS, DOE considered and responded to comments received during the Draft EIS comment period, giving equal consideration to written comments and oral comments. During the Draft EIS comment period, DOE conducted two online public hearings on January 27 and 28, 2021.
A copy of the Final VTR EIS can be downloaded below.
With the issuance of the Final VTR EIS, DOE can proceed with issuing one or more Records of Decision (RODs). DOE will publish a ROD no sooner than 30 days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Notice of Availability for the Final EIS is published in the Federal Register. For alternatives (or options) for which DOE did not identify a preferred alternative (or option) in the Final VTR EIS, DOE will not issue a ROD until 30 days after publication of the preferred alternative (or option) in the Federal Register.
Questions regarding the Final VTR EIS or the analyses therein can be sent to Mr. James Lovejoy, Document Manager:
- Email: VTR.EIS@nuclear.energy.gov
- Send mail to:
Mr. James Lovejoy
U.S. Department of Energy
Idaho Operations Office
1955 Fremont Avenue, MS 1235
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415