RICHLAND, Wash.-- They're tucked inside a research lab at PNNL. A team of about ten is making a huge impact on our nation's nuclear energy future.
For over thirty years, PNNL has been in charge of evaluating environmental impact studies for all nuclear power plant construction plans. They work with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to see if proposed nuclear power plants are ecologically and hydraulically viable, among other categories.
There haven't been any new nuclear power plants since the mid-1990's, but with a focus on clean and local energy, nuclear power has made a comeback. Currently, PNNL is evaluating eleven different proposed nuclear power plants around the country, but mostly in the Southeast.
Each evaluation is put together before licensing can occur. Along with the studies, they also look at public comments and make a final document to send to the NRC. The NRC then decides to give a final "thumbs up."