BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday an agreement with an energy cooperative that could lead to the building of small commercial nuclear reactors at an eastern Idaho federal nuclear site.

The agency says it granted a site-use permit to Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems to access the 890-square-mile area containing the Idaho National Laboratory. Additional approval would be needed to build the small modular reactors if a suitable location is found. Oregon-based NuScale Power would build the reactors that can individually produce 50 megawatts.

Experts say the small reactors are designed to be safer than conventional nuclear plants by being able to shut down without human involvement in the event of a disaster.

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