NRC: First part of first COL application in

26 July 2007

Unistar submitted the first part of a licence application to build a new nuclear power plant on 13 July. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said it is now looking over documents detailing the environmental impact Calvert Cliffs 3 would make.

Calvert Cliffs, owned by Unistar partner Constellation, is about 64 km south of Annapolis, Maryland. It already hosts two pressurized water reactors, which have produced 865 MWe each since the mid 1970s. The US Evolutionary Power Reactor (USEPR) proposed for build would add some 1600 MWe to the plant's output around the middle of the next decade.

The NRC has said it is now examining the environmental report documentation, which runs to around 5900 pages and can be found in the New Reactor Licensing section of its website. Scott Burnell of the NRC told World Nuclear News that the commission was conducting a sufficiency check. If the report seems in order, the NRC will 'docket' it and begin formal review in earnest. A public meeting is already scheduled for 14 August, where the review process would be discussed.

The other principle part of COL application is a safety analysis. Unistar are now expected to submit this within six months, after taking advantage of NRC rules that allow the parts to be sent in separately, but not more that time period apart. The NRC has previously estimated that the first COL application reviews would take around 42 months.

The timing of Unistar's submission has come as a surprise: the company has consistently quoted March 2008 as its target for its first COL application.

In another development for Unistar, Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI) has chosen the USEPR technology for its proposed new nuclear power plant in Idaho. AEHI, a company new to nuclear power, announced on 25 July that it had agreed for Unistar to assist AEHI "in seeking regulatory approval and in subsequent plant construction."

Unistar is a project of Constellation and France's nuclear technology company Areva, that designed the USEPR. It is meant to provide integrated licensing and construction of a standardised fleet of the plants. Constellation also recently agreed with Electricite de France (EdF), to create Unistar Nuclear Energy (UNE) to own and operate a fleet of USEPR plants in the USA and Canada. EdF will bring to UNE its experience of operating all of France's 58 Areva-designed nuclear power reactors.

Further information

Alternate Energy Holdings Inc.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Combined License Applications and Subsequent Documentation

WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper

WNN: Unistar selects Calvert Cliffs for COL
WNN: AEHI secures funding for Idaho plant
WNN: AEHI considers EPR for Idaho