Early site permit approvals are major milestone for nuclear industry

By Teresa Hansen, Power Engineering Associate Editor and Nuclear Power On-line Editor

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC's) approval of two early site permits (ESP) in March represents a major milestone for the U.S. commercial nuclear industry. On March 15, the NRC issued the first-of-a-kind ESP to Exelon Generation Co. for the Clinton site near Clinton, Ill. Less than two weeks later, on March 27, the NRC authorized an ESP for System Energy Resources Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Entergy Corp., for the Grand Gulf site near Port Gibson, Miss. The NRC staff has 10 business days to carry out the NRC's directions and issue the Grand Gulf permit.

These ESP approvals are part of a four-year, cost shared program with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Exelon and Entergy. DOE has partnered with the two companies and Dominion Energy since September 2002 to demonstrate the ESP process. The process was established by the NRC in 1989 for utilities to complete the site and environmental evaluations before a decision is made to build a nuclear plant.

Successful completion of the ESP process resolves many site-related safety and environmental issues, said a DOE news release. The ESP indicates the site is suitable for possible future construction and operation of a nuclear power plant. It is valid for up to 20 years, during which time, the company (or any other potential applicant interested in the site) must still seek NRC approval for a combined construction and operating license (COL) to build one or more nuclear plants on the site before any significant construction can occur.

The NRC is continuing to work with North Anna in Virginia and Vogtle in Georgia, which are close to receiving their ESPs. The North Anna application is currently the focus of a hearing by the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The DOE said a decision of the North Anna ESP is expected later this year. The NRC expects to issue a draft environmental impact statement and initial safety report on the Vogtle application by late summer.

The DOE press releases commend the NRC's decision to issue the two ESPs. The DOE touted these decisions as a major milestone in the President's plan to expand the use of safe and clean nuclear power. As part of President Bush's Advanced Energy Initiative - which seeks to change the way Americans power the nation - nuclear power will play an increasingly important role as the demand for electricity grows worldwide.

"Government's role is to create an environment in which clean energy can flourish, and I'm proud to say that we're helping do just that,' Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. "By demonstrating effectiveness and predictability in the licensing process, utilities will have the information they need to make sound business decisions that can lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants."

Bodman said the DOE is proud to foster an environment where nuclear power can begin to thrive. "We're seeing a lot of momentum in the nuclear world; while promoting nuclear energy is a good policy for government, it can also be good business," he said. "NRC approval of two early site permits in just one month represents a major accomplishment in the Bush Administration's effort to improve nuclear regulatory processes while still demonstrating effectiveness."

The DOE said it is encouraging Entergy's plans to pursue the next licensing phase of submitting a COL application, which is the next step toward building a nuclear power plant in the United States. The DOE pledged to continue its programs with industry partners to lead the path toward a nuclear renaissance, ensuring America's energy future with safe, reliable, emissions-free, renewable and affordable base-load energy.

The NRC's ESP approvals also support DOE's Nuclear Power 2010 (NP 2010) program, a joint government/industry cost-shared effort to identify sites for new nuclear power plants; develop and bring to market advanced nuclear plant technologies; evaluate the business case for building new nuclear power plants and; demonstrate untested regulatory processes.

President Bush's Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 budget requests $874.2M ($241M, 38.2 percent increase over the FY'07 request) for DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy. $114 million of that request ($60 million, 111 percent increase over the FY 2007 request) has been allocated for NP2010 to complete the remaining ESP demonstration projects and continue the New Nuclear Plant Licensing Demonstration projects. This funding, said the DOE, will allow continued reactor designs and implement further successful licensing interactions with industry to build new nuclear plants by 2009.

Sponsored by FLSmidth

Related Articles

Employment in power sector declines, except for renewable generators

According to the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as published on the website of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (eia), the electric power generation sector lost more than 5,800 jobs from January 2011 to June 2014, despite a gain of nearly 1,800 non-hydro jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Pilgrim nuclear power plant snowstorm Massachusetts Entergy Nuclear shut down NRC special inspection emergency diesel generators offsite power

Nuclear plant shutdown brings NRC inspectors on site

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) began special inspections at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Massachusetts.

Follow Power Engineering on Twitter

Latest News

Monticello nuclear power plant has increased NRC oversight

NRC continues oversight of Monticello nuclear power plant

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it will continue increased oversight of the...
Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant lawsuit Germany

German co-op to sue over Hinkley Point C nuclear incentives

A German energy cooperative said it will sue the European Commission over incentives for a nu...
University of Iowa plans steam generating power plant

University of Iowa proposes $75 million power plant

University of Iowa officials are ready to begin planning a steam production plant on the west...
Saudi Arabia South Korea nuclear power cooperation deal memorandum of understanding

Saudi Arabia, S. Korea sign nuclear power deal

Saudi Arabia and South Korea signed a deal to build nuclear power plants in the Kingdom.

W.Va. gov signs bill letting lawmakers OK state carbon plan

Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has signed a bill letting lawmakers approve state plans to m...
 Nuclear company Areva in turmoil after billions in losses

Nuclear company Areva in turmoil after billions in losses

Nuclear manufacturer Areva has announced a 4.8 billion euro loss for 2014, more than its enti...
 Electric utility Dominion flexes political muscles in Virginia

Electric utility Dominion flexes political muscles in Virginia

Virginia's 2015 legislative session was a good one for energy giant Dominion Resources Inc. (...
Callaway Energy Center's Replacement Reactor Vessel Closure Head Project

[Image Gallery] Callaway Energy Center Nuclear Power Upgrade Project

Power Engineering Current Issue

01/01/2015
Volume 119, Issue 1
1501pe-cover-lg

Products Showcase

Dynamic Fluoride Ion cleaning DFIC of industrial natural gas turbines Hi-Tech Furnace Systems

Dynamic Fluoride Ion Cleaning of IGT Parts

The Dynamic Fluoride Ion Cleaning (DFIC) Process from Hi-Tech Furnace Systems is able to clean deep, narrow cracks of oxides by cycling between negative, atmospheric, and positive pressure.

Archived Articles

2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015

Power Industry Wire News

U.S. Southwest Leads Nation With More Than $18 Billion in Second-Quarter 2015 Construction Starts, an Industrial Info News Alert

U.S. Southwest Leads Nation With More Than $18 Billion in Second-Quarter 2015 Construct...

Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy Issues Statement After Oregon House passes SB 324

Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy Issues Statement After Oregon House passes SB 324

CRMI Retools Transition Team; Senior Management Changes Announced; New Stock Transfer Agent Appointed

CRMI Retools Transition Team; Senior Management Changes Announced; New Stock Transfer A...

GulfSlope Energy to Present at the 27th Annual Roth Conference

GulfSlope Energy to Present at the 27th Annual Roth Conference

Will the U.S. Shale Boom Fuel Asia's Economic Future and Europe's Energy Security?

Will the U.S. Shale Boom Fuel Asia's Economic Future and Europe's Energy Security?

Power Engineering

Article Archives for Power Engineering Magazine

Continuing Education

Professional Development Hours

To access a course listing associated to a specific topic listed below, click on the topic of choice from the list below.

Latest Energy Jobs

View more Job Listings >>