Public Comment period on NNSA tritium plan open now

Home  »  Uncategorized  »  Public Comment period on NNSA tritium plan open now
Aug 15, 2014 7 Comments ›› orepa


The National Nuclear Security Administration has announced its plan to continue making more radioactive tritium for nuclear weapons in the Watts Bar power reactor in Spring City, TN even though it releases more tritium—three to four times more than originally projected—to the Tennessee River.

The NNSA plan is announced in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Production of Tritium in a Commercial Light Water Reactor, released in August 2014. Public hearings on the Draft S-EIS will be held September 9 in Athens, TN, and September 10 in Chattanooga, TN.

The plan continues the US policy of producing nuclear weapons materials in commercial power reactors in violation of a long-standing international policy separating civilian and military uses of nuclear power.

In 1999, the United States gave itself permission to do what had previously been forbidden for all nations—produce nuclear weapons materials in a commercial nuclear power reactor. The US did it with a little verbal sleight-of-tongue, creating a category called “special nuclear material” which would include only plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

The 1999 decision projected a tritium leak rate of 1 curie per year for each tritium-producing rod inserted in the reactor, and decided tritium could be produced in Tennessee Valley Authority reactors at Watts Bar and at Sequoyah—in reality, only Watts Bar Unit 1 has been used, since 2003, to produce tritium for US nuclear warheads.

After production began, the National Nuclear Security Administration discovered that three to four time as much tritium was escaping into the reactor coolant and eventually being discharged into the Tennessee River; in 2011, NNSA announced it would prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to address the increased tritium releases and also the declining need for tritium.

The result of that process, the Draft S-EIS, analyzes seven alternatives and chooses one “preferred alternative.” Under that alternative, NNSA would irradiate tritium producing rods only in Watts Bar, Unit 1. The total number of rods irradiated per year would not exceed 2,500.

At this level of production, between 7,500 and 10,000 curies of tritium would be released annually to the Tennessee River upstream from the water intake for Chattanooga, Tennessee, and other downstream populations. NNSA has determined this addition of radioactive tritium will cause no significant harm to downstream citizens or to the environment.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement does not address ongoing concerns about the nonproliferation impacts of the US policy of production of nuclear weapons materials in a commercial power reactor.

Information about the hearings and copies of the Draft S-EIS can be found at


The release of the Draft S-EIS opens a comment period; the NNSA wants to hear what you think of their plans. You can submit written comments or come to a hearing to speak. Or both!

The hearings will be held on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 from 6:00 – 9:00pm at the Southeast Tennessee Trade and Conference Center in Athens, TN and on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at Chattanooga State Community College Center for Business, Industry and Health Cafeteria, from 6:00 – 9:00pm in Chattanooga, TN.

Each hearing will start with an informal session at 6:00, a DOE/NNSA presentation at 6:30, and public comments beginning at 7:00pm

Writing comments can be submitted by email to: in care of Mr. Curtis Chambellan.

Comments should be submitted by September 22, 2014.


  1. Danville Sweeton says:

    Mr. Chambellan,
    As extremely concerned citizens we do not want to see the proposal to produce tritium nor any type of nuclear weapon material at our nuclear power plants. We do not want the nuclear waste in our waterways! We care about the health of all our citizens.
    How hypocritical is it to accuse and sanction other countries such as Iran of doing exactly what is proposed here? We have enough nuclear material to destroy the planet. Please put your energies into a real nuclear ban treaty world wide, not increasing the danger of a nuclear holocaust that none can survive.
    For the peace and safety of all, do not pursue this path of destruction.
    Danville and Beverly Sweeton
    Lebanon, TN.

  2. Claire Lovelace says:

    I strongly object to two matters in this announcement:

    1) The continued use of commercial enterprises for military purposes.

    2) The discharge of radioactive material into the Tennessee River. That is an unnecessary risk to our dwindling natural resources.

  3. Claire Lovelace says:

    I strongly object to two matters in the announcement.

    1) The continued use of commercial enterprises for military purposes.

    2) The discharge of radioactive material into the Tennessee River. Such discharges would pose an unnecessary risk o our dwindling natural resources!

  4. Lydia Garvey says:

    Nix Draft plan to continue producing tritium for nuclear weapons in the commercial power reactor at Watts Bar in Tennessee! The new plan also admits NNSA will release up to 10,000 curies of toxic radioactive tritium into the Tennessee River each year.
    Where is the respect to nature & sanity?!
    Protect Our Public lands, waters, wildlife, health & future!
    Your attention to this most urgent matter would be much apprecaited by all present & future generations of all species.
    Thank you
    Lydia Garvey Public Health Nurse
    429 S 24th st Clinton OK 73601

  5. Jim Von Bramer says:

    Dear Mr. Curtis Chambellan , In a very clear violation of international law which is not to produce nuclear weapons out of commercial reactors , I do not want no trillium which some have estimated would be 7500 to 10,000 in the Tennessee River . I appreciate very much if you don’t aaprove any plans to take trillium out of commercial reactors . Sincerely , Jim Von Bramer

  6. Don Feeney Jr D.M.D. says:

    Stop production of all nuclear materials, dismantle all nuclear weapons, cut the military budget by 75%, release this money to feed, clothe, educate, house all the people in the world, protect our ecosystems, stop oil, coal production and natural gas, convert to alternative energy NOW. Mother Earth is pushing back against our destruction of the earth. We are the fragile and vulnerable species. If we want to live Love, be compassionate Do all of the above things and more

  7. […] For more information, please click here. […]

Leave a Reply