UPDATED: This article has been updated to include a comment from an EDF spokesperson on the NRC's decision.
Unistar's applicaton to build a new nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs does not currently meet federal laws on foreign ownership, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said.
|Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2 (Image: NRC)
Unistar Nuclear Energy, originally a 50:50 joint venture between EDF and Constellation Energy, is planning to build a French-designed EPR reactor at the Calvert Cliffs site in Maryland where Constellation already operates two existing pressurised water reactors. EDF took 100% control of Unistar Nuclear Energy when it bought out its erstwhile partner in October 2010 after the financial burden of securing federal loan guarantees put the project beyond Constellation's commercial reach.
US federal regulation 10 CFR 50.38 prohibits the granting of a nuclear plant operating licence to foreign corporations. Unistar has made various revisions to the ownership and financial information in its combined construction and operation licence (COL) application for the plant, including what it called a negation plan which would see the company appoint a US citizen as CEO to assure US control over relevant matters, and various subcommittees of US citizens to ensure US control over safety, security and reliability matters. However, in a letter to Unistar president and CEO George Vanderheyden dated 6 April, the NRC said that the application still failed to meet the requirements of 10 CFR 50.38.
The regulator has said it will continue its review of the remaining portions of the COL application and to finalize the final environmental impact statement "while Unistar considers its options to move forward," leaving the door open for the company to secure a US partner. "However, a licence will not be issued unless the requirements of 10 CFR 50.38 are met," the regulator warns.
An EDF spokesperson told World Nuclear News, "As we have consistently stated, Calvert Cliffs 3 will ultimately have a US partner." He added, "While EDF and Unistar disagree with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's conclusion regarding Unistar's present governance structure, we are pleased that the NRC will continue to review all other aspects of our pending application. This allows the project to continue moving forward as anticipated. Unistar and EDF will work with the NRC to resolve the governance issues prior to the issuance of the licence."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News