The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has voted to approve an Early Site Permit (ESP) for Dominion's North Anna site in Virginia.
The ESP confirms in principle that a site is suitable for the possible future construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant, and enables a company to complete a vital part of the planning permission process before committing to the large capital outlay required to build a new plant. The permit will be valid for 20 years, allowing the company - or any other potential applicant interested in the site - to apply for a combined construction and operation licence (COL). A COL must be issued for the site before any significant construction can occur.
Dominion applied for the permit on 25 September 2003. The NRC published a final safety evaluation for the North Anna ESP in August 2006 and a final environmental impact statement in December 2006. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) conducted a hearing on the matter and ruled on 29 June 2007 that the permit could be issued. Following the approval of the Commission, the ESP will be issued by the NRC within ten working days.
Mark McGettrick, President and CEO of Dominion Generation, said, "The ESP is an important step in ensuring that not only will safe, reliable nuclear energy be available as we plan for future growth, but we have an electricity source that can produce a significant amount of electricity with no greenhouse gas emissions."
This is the third ESP to be issued by the NRC. The first was granted to Exelon's Clinton site in Illinois in early March 2007, while the second, for Entergy's Grand Gulf site in Mississippi, was granted at the end of that month. An ESP application for Southern Nuclear Operating Company's Vogtle site in Georgia is under review.
Dominion is expected to submit a COL application by the end of 2007 for a 1550 MWe General Electric (GE) Economic Simplified BWR (ESBWR) at North Anna. In anticipation of receiving such a licence, Dominion has already signed contracts with GE to purchase heavy forgings for the future plant. The contracts concern plant components which require a long time and require special manufacturing facilities to make - parts of the reactor pressure vessel, steam turbine and generator.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper
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