Two projects to build new nuclear reactors in the US have moved forward with the completion of the final environmental impact statement for South Texas Project units 3 and 4 and the award of a contract to upgrade transmission lines at VC Summer.
Futuregazing: STP 3 and 4
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announcement that it had completed the final environmental impact assessment for the two advanced boiling water reactors (ABWRs) proposed for the South Texas Project (STP) site is a milestone on the road to a combined construction and operating licence (COL) for the plant. The study assesses the potential impacts of the project at the STP site and at alternative sites, and mitigation measures available for reducing or avoiding adverse impacts. The conclusion was that there are no environmental impacts that would preclude the issue of the licence, and states: "After considering the environmental aspects of the proposed action, the NRC staff's recommendation to the Commission is that the COLs be issued as proposed."
STP Operating Company applied for the COL in September 2007. The completion of the study by the regulator concludes the environmental review section of the COL process which involved drawing up a draft environmental impact statement taking into account comments from the public, local officials and state and federal agency representatives. Further public meetings were then held to gather comments on the draft statement. However, the environmental review is only part of the overall COL application review process, and the NRC is still compiling the final safety evaluation report. The final licensing decision will be based on the environmental impact statement, the safety evaluation report as well as a ruling from the NRC's five appointed commissioners.
Although the COL for STP is not anticipated until 2012, an engineering, procurement and construction contract for the project has been awarded to a consortium of Toshiba's US subsidiary Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation and The Shaw Group, and an order for one of the reactor pressure vessels has already been placed with Japanese engineering company IHI. As well as applying for a federal loan guarantee, Japanese utility Tepco has taken a stake in the project through Nuclear Nuclear Innovation North America (Nina), a nuclear development company jointly owned by STP owner NRG Energy and Toshiba. Nina is also pursuing additional loan guarantees through Japanese export credit agencies.
Summer transmission contract
Scana Corporation has awarded Pike Electric Corporation an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for 250 miles of new transmission lines needed for the planned expansion of the VC Summer nuclear power station in South Carolina. The contract is worth $275 million.
The new transmission lines are needed to support two new AP1000 reactors for which Scana subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas submitted a COL application in 2008. The units are pencilled in for operation in 2016 and 2019. VC Summer is already home to one operating pressurized water reactor.
Work will begin on the new transmission lines immediately, with construction to be completed by the end of 2014 for the lines for unit 2 and the end of 2018 for unit 3.
Pike was previously awarded an EPC contract for a new transmission switchyard for the project. The latest contract is another strong signal of intent to go ahead with construction of the new reactors, for which a construction contract was awarded in 2008. The NRC currently anticipates completing the environmental element of the COL application in April 2011 and the safety report in June.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News