Nuclear, Reactors

Court of Appeals supports NRC decision approving Harris spent fuel storage plan

RALEIGH, N.C., Sept. 23, 2002 — A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in an appeal brought by Orange County, N.C.

The county had appealed the findings of the NRC and Atomic Safety & Licensing Board (ASLB) regarding CP&L’s spent fuel storage plan at its Harris Nuclear Plant. CP&L is a subsidiary of Progress Energy.

The September 19th order stated: “Finding no error in NRC’s determinations, the court hereby denies the petitions for review primarily for the reasons stated in the agency’s (NRC) orders.”

The ASLB had ruled specifically that Orange County’s proposed storage accident scenario was so “remote and speculative” that it did not merit additional review. It also ruled that Orange County did not have new information that had not previously been considered by the agency.

“The Court clearly validated the decision that was made with such careful deliberation and study by the experts at the NRC and ASLB,” said William D. Johnson, executive vice president and General Counsel, Progress Energy. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the independent Atomic Safety & Licensing Board studied our plan extensively for more than two years and found it to be safe and responsible.”

In December 1998, CP&L requested an amendment to the operating license for its Harris Nuclear Plant from the NRC to use two already built spent fuel pools at Harris. In response to a legal intervention by Orange County, the NRC appointed a three-judge ASLB to hear and decide upon Orange County’s concerns.

The NRC and ASLB held public meetings during their deliberation process. CP&L also made more than 200 presentations to local organizations in six counties and hosted two public meetings. Both the NRC and ASLB approved CP&L’s plan, finding it to be safe and responsible. The NRC issued the license amendment in December 2000. In June 2001, the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to issue a stay as requested by Orange County, and on September 19 the Court denied the County’s appeal.

CP&L has been safely using pool storage technology for spent fuel for more than 30 years and at the Harris Plant for 13 years. Every reactor in the United States uses pool storage for at least the first five years. The technology has been used safely by the industry since the 1950s.

“Our nuclear plants provide about half the electricity our customers use each year,” said C.S. Hinnant, senior vice president and Chief Nuclear Officer, Progress Energy. “This ruling allows us to continue storing used nuclear fuel in a safe and proven way until the federal government meets its obligation to create a permanent national storage facility.”

Progress Energy is a Fortune 250 diversified holding company headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., with more than 21,800 megawatts of generation capacity and $8 billion in annual revenues.

The company’s diverse portfolio includes two major electric utility companies, CP&L and Florida Power, as well as NCNG, Progress Rail, Progress Fuels, Progress Telecom and Progress Ventures, which manages the company’s non-regulated energy operations including fuel extraction, manufacturing and delivery; merchant generation; and energy marketing and trading.

These companies serve 2.9 million customers across the Southeast, providing electricity, natural gas, energy services and broadband capacity. For more information about Progress Energy, visit the company’s Web site at

Source: Progress Energy, Inc.