Advanced Nuclear Reactor Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS)

The NRC is developing a GEIS for advanced nuclear reactors in order to streamline the environmental review process for future advanced nuclear reactor (ANR) environmental reviews. The purpose of an ANR GEIS is to determine which environmental impacts could result in essentially the same (generic) impact for different ANR designs that fit within the parameters set in the GEIS, and which environmental impacts would require a plant-specific analysis. Environmental reviews for advanced nuclear reactor license applications could incorporate the ANR GEIS by reference and provide site-specific information and analyses in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), thereby streamlining the environmental review process.

In SECY-20-0020, the staff informed the Commission that it planned to use a technology-neutral plant parameter envelope (or PPE) approach to bound small-scale ANR projects. For the purposes of the ANR GEIS, the staff stated that it considered a "small-scale" ANR as having the potential to generate up to approximately 30 megawatts thermal per reactor with a correspondingly small environmental footprint. The staff stated that the actual bounding thermal power level of the ANR and the environmental footprint used in the ANR GEIS were topics to be determined during the scoping process for the GEIS.

On April 30, 2020, the NRC issued a Federal Register notice informing the public of its intent to develop an advanced reactor GEIS and to conduct a scoping process to gather the information necessary to prepare the GEIS. Based on the comments received during scoping, the NRC decided to use a technology-neutral, performance-based approach with specified values and assumptions using a plant parameter envelope (PPE) that would largely decouple the analysis for most resources from reactor power level. The PPE will consist of bounding values or parameters, and assumptions, for specific reactor design features regardless of site. In addition, the staff decided to develop a set of site condition values and assumptions termed the site parameter envelope (SPE). The SPE also includes specific assumptions related to the condition of the affected environment, such as the extent and occurrence of wetlands and floodplains, position near aquatic features, and proximity to sensitive noise receptors. The GEIS will present generic analyses that evaluate the possible impacts of a reactor that fits within the bounds of the PPE on a site that fits within the bounds of the SPE.

A future application that references the ANR GEIS will need to demonstrate that its project is bounded by the analysis in the ANR GEIS and that there is no significant new information affecting the evaluation. If the project is bounded by the ANR GEIS and there is no significant new information, the NRC will incorporate by reference the ANR GEIS and no further analysis would be needed. The application will also need to analyze the site-specific resources not resolved generically in the ANR GEIS. If impacts to a resource have not been resolved generically by the ANR GEIS, the site-specific SEIS will evaluate the impacts to the resource.

In SRM-SECY-20-0020, the Commission directed the staff to initiate rulemaking to codify the ANR GEIS findings in the Code of Federal Regulations. The Commission also directed the staff to consider a PPE that is inclusive of as many ANR technologies as possible in establishing the scope of the ANR GEIS.

Below is the schedule for the GEIS and rule.

April 30, 2020 – Federal Register notice of intent to prepare GEIS and conduct scoping (85 FR 24040) published

June 30, 2020 – Scoping comment period ended

September 25, 2020 – Scoping Summary Report issued

November 2023 – Draft GEIS and rule issued for comment

February 2025 – Final GEIS and rule issued

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