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New Nuclear Power Plants

Consortia

The African American Environmentalist Association has participated in the three Early Site Permit (ESP) hearings sponsored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Center also attended the Combined Operating License (COL) meeting between Duke Power and NRC. Descriptions of these activities are below.

Consortia Want To Build New Nuclear Plants

Seven companies have announced they will file a joint license application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build a new nuclear power plant: Chicago-based Exelon, Entergy Nuclear, a unit of New Orleans-based Entergy; Baltimore-based Constellation Energy; Atlanta-based Southern Co.; EDF International North America; and two reactor vendors, General Electric and Westinghouse Electric.  It has been 30 years since an application has been filed to build a plant that later went into operation. Other applications were received after 1974, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but were withdrawn or the plants never began operating.  Utilities are considering building or restarting up to eight reactors in Mississippi, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, and Idaho, as well as in Illinois.  One of the sites being looked at is the Savannah River nuclear site in South Carolina.  Another potential site is the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls. The Energy Department controls both properties.

The companies have not committed to building a new plant but aim to test the NRC's streamlined licensing process, implemented in 1992. The companies hope to file the application in 2008 and get an NRC decision in 2010. They say their actions follow a Department of Energy initiative last fall to develop nuclear power plants.  Nustart has already won a commitment of $260 million from the Energy Department to complete plant design. The original request was for $400 million.

Under another consortium, NuStart Energy Development applied for a smaller grant to study building an advanced reactor on the site of a twin-reactor project abandoned in 1988 as too expensive. NuStart includes the Tennessee Valley Authority, Duke Power,  Exelon Nuclear, a unit of the Exelon Corporation; Entergy Nuclear, a unit of the Entergy Corporation; Constellation Energy; Southern CompanyEDF International North America, a subsidiary of Électricité de France, which owns shares in reactors in the United States, General Electric and the Westinghouse Electric Company, a subsidiary of BNFL, which was formerly British Nuclear Fuels Limited. NuStart is applying for a dollar-for-dollar match, under a program called Nuclear Power 2010, whose goal is to have at least one reactor under construction by that year. It has not picked a site or a design, or even committed to build anything.

A different group asked for help with a $4 million under Nuclear Power 2010 to explore building a nuclear reactor in northern Alabama at the site of the Tennessee Valley Authority's Bellefont project. The T.V.A. stopped work on a twin-unit nuclear plant at Bellefonte in 1988, after spending $2.5 billion. This consortium consists of T.V.A. and General Electric (which are both members of the NuStart group as well); Bechtel, Toshiba; and USEC, a company that processes uranium for nuclear reactor use. 

Another consortium made up of Dominion Resources Inc., Hitachi America, Bechtel and an American subsidiary of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd are also asking for financing.

Nuclear Power Consortium NuStart Energy Selects 6 Finalists and Will Select Two to Apply for Licenses to Build and Operate Nuclear Power Plants in October 2005.

Four of the six already house operating nuclear power plants. The sites, by location, are:

  • Scottsboro, Ala. The Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, an unfinished site owned by the U.S. government's Tennessee Valley Authority.
  • Port Gibson, Miss. The Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, owned by Entergy.
  • St. Francisville, La. The River Bend Station, owned by Entergy.
  • Aiken, S.C. The Savannah River Site, a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons lab.
  • Lusby, Md. The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant, owned by Constellation Energy.
  • Oswego, N.Y. The Nine Mile Point plant, owned by Constellation Energy.

All six sites chosen by NuStart are owned either by a consortium member or by the Department of Energy. The consortium will evaluate the sites on 75 factors including seismic activity, availability of water and emergency preparedness issues.

The NuStart consortium consists of nine utilities, including Exelon, Entergy, and Duke Energy, as well as nuclear reactor manufacturers GE Energy, a unit of General Electric, and Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of BNFL.

Under the Department of Energy’s Nuclear 2010 program, half of the estimated $520 million cost of the project is being shouldered by the Energy Department and half will be paid by the consortium members.

The consortium expects to apply for licenses in 2008. Construction could then begin in 2010 with completion in 2014, NuStart said.

International Agreement For Next Generation Nuclear Power Systems

The Bush Administration's Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman joined representatives from Canada, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom to sign the first international agreement in history aimed at the development of next generation nuclear power systems.  The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) iresearch agreement will accelerate an international effort to develop Generation IV nuclear energy systems nuclear energy technology that will be safer, more reliable, cost-effective, and more proliferation-resistant than any technology available today.

The GIF partners have identified six next generation technologies for development including:

  1. Gas Cooled Fast Reactor;
  2. Sodium Fast Reactor;
  3. Lead-Cooled Fast Reactor;
  4. Molten Salt Reactor;
  5. Supercritical Water Reactor; and
  6. Very High Temperature Reactor.

The last technology concept forms the basis of the U.S. research program to develop an ultra-safe, economic nuclear system that will be designed to produce electricity and hydrogen with substantially less waste and without emitting air pollutants or greenhouse gases.

The Framework Agreement allows participating countries to go beyond coordination of research and to begin conducting joint research projects all over the world.  This agreement will allow the United States and other GIF member countries to carry out their research and development programs more effectively by leveraging the resources and expertise of the international research community.

The Generation IV International Forum is composed of 11 countries including:

  1. Argentina,
  2. Brazil,
  3. Canada,
  4. European Union,
  5. France,
  6. Japan,
  7. South Africa,
  8. South Korea,
  9. Switzerland,
  10. United Kingdom, and
  11. United States

For more information on this and other DOE nuclear technology initiatives please visit the Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology at www.nuclear.gov

(Source: DOE)