Application to build two US nuclear reactors

31 October 2007

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the NuStart consortium have submitted a combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for two new nuclear reactors at the mothballed Bellefonte site in Alabama.

The application is for two Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors and will provide a reference case for the design. In future when other utilities choose to build an AP1000 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) would be able to process those applications more easily by referring to their earlier work. TVA expect the NRC to process this application in about four years; it took about two years to prepare.

The purpose of the NuStart consortium is to pool utility resources so that all 12 of its utility members can gain early benefits from the advantages of the new licensing method. Later it intends to apply with Entergy to build a GE-Hitachi boiling water reactor at Grand Gulf in Mississippi.

The Bellefonte site was earmarked as a nuclear power plant as long ago as the 1970s, when construction work began on two pressurized water reactors. However, the plants were deferred in the early 1980s and ultimately cancelled in 2005.

Although TVA clearly intends to go ahead with the new Bellefonte project, which would supply it with a further 2200 MWe of electricity for its industrial and domestic consumers, the actual decision to build would be taken later by the company's board. Earlier this year TVA approved the completion of Watts Bar 2, a partially built pressurized water reactor that had been mothballed since 1985.

TVA's is the third COL application to be submitted the NRC of a wave of potential new reactors that numbers some 31 units and amounts to over 41,000 MWe of generation capacity. Already in are applications for an Areva USEPR at Calvert Cliffs and two GE-Hitachi ABWRs at South Texas Project.

NRC chair Dale Klein has said his office is ready for the workload, but that it could be forced to push back its deadlines for completing reviews if the US Congress does not meet funding requests for 2008. "Any time you're in a growth period and you have to be held to the previous year's funding, it has very negative consequences," Klein told Energy Policy TV.

Further information

Tennessee ValleyAuthority (TVA)

US Nuclear RegulatoryCommission (NRC)

WNA's USNuclear Power Industry information paper  

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WNN: NRC:First part of COL application in