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U.S. Department of Energy is releasing the Draft Versatile Test Reactor Impact Statement - Public Comment is Encouraged

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is releasing the Draft Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement(Draft VTR EIS) (DOE/EIS-0542).  The proposed VTR would be a sodium-cooled, fast-neutron-spectrum test reactor that will enhance and accelerate research, development, and demonstration of innovative nuclear energy technologies.

The Draft VTR EIS, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), analyzes potential impacts of the VTR alternatives and options for reactor fuel production on various environmental and community resources.  The Draft VTR EIS evaluates: 

  • Construction and operation of the VTR at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) or the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).  This includes operating and performing experiments in the VTR, post-irradiation examination of irradiated test specimens in hot cell facilities, and spent fuel conditioning and storage pending shipment for interim or permanent disposal.
  • Production of fuel for the VTR at INL and/or the Savannah River Site (SRS), including preparing feedstock for the fuel, fabricating fuel pins, and assembling the fuel pins into reactor fuel.
  • A no-action alternative under which DOE would not pursue the construction and operation of a VTR.  

The Draft VTR EIS identifies the construction and operation of the VTR at the INL Site as DOE's Preferred Alternative.  To the extent possible, existing facilities (modified as necessary) would be used for the VTR support facilities.

The public is now encouraged to comment on the Draft VTR EIS.  The public comment period on the Draft VTR EIS will conclude 45 days after the date that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register(expected to be published December 31, 2020).  A copy of the Draft VTR EIS can be downloaded at

DOE plans to hold two public hearings on the Draft VTR EIS.  In light of ongoing public health concerns, DOE will host internet-based, virtual public hearings in place of in-person hearings. During the hearings, DOE will give a brief presentation on the Draft VTR EIS, followed by a period during which DOE will accept oral comments on the Draft VTR EIS.  There will also be a phone line available to allow people who do not have an internet connection the opportunity to participate.  The comments will be transcribed.  The dates of the hearing will be provided in a future notice posted on the following website: advertised in newspapers near INL, ORNL, and SRS.  DOE will hold the hearings no earlier than 15 days from the posting of the notice.

Written comments on the Draft VTR EIS may also be submitted during the public comment period.  Comments should be sent to Mr. James Lovejoy, Document Manager:

  • By mail:          U.S. Department of Energy

                                  Idaho Operations Office

                                  1955 Fremont Avenue

                                  MS 1235

                                  Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415

In preparing the Final EIS, DOE will consider and respond to comments received during the Draft EIS comment period, giving equal consideration to both written and oral comments.  DOE plans to reproduce all comment documents in their entirety in the Final EIS (as appropriate).  Any person wishing to have his/her name withheld from the public record of comment documents must state this request prominently at the beginning of any comment document.  DOE will honor the request to the extent allowable by law.  All submissions from organizations and businesses and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses will be included in the public record and open to public inspection in their entirety.

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy established the VTR program in 2018 in response to the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA).  NEICA directs DOE to assess the mission need for and cost of a versatile, reactor-based, fast-neutron source with high neutron flux, irradiation flexibility, multiple experimental environment capabilities, and volume for many concurrent users.

DOE approved the mission need for VTR in February 2019 and approved Critical Decision 1 in September 2020.  Critical Decision 1 is the second step in the formal process DOE uses to review and manage research infrastructure projects.  The Department will make a final decision regarding the VTR following the completion of the EIS and a Record of Decision, which is expected in late 2021.

The Department is committed to reviving and expanding the nuclear energy infrastructure in the United States.  An important step to achieving this goal is building the VTR in a manner that is protective of the public and the environment. 

Thank you for your interest in the VTR EIS.

Email regarding the VTR EIS should be address to


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