Reactor Plans Falling Like Dominoes
Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2015
In a letter dated February 25, the French nuclear industry giant Areva asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to indefinitely halt the review process for certification of its new US EPR (European Pressurized Reactor) design, developed initially by Framatome (now Areva), EDF in France and Siemens in Germany. Areva made the decision to drop the US EPR project as part an overall restructuring following its record losses of $5.38 billion in 2014.
Areva’s CEO Philippe Knoche made clear reference to more profitable reactor construction futures elsewhere. World Nuclear News reported, “the company planned to emphasize growth in China, which he described as the ‘new frontier’ of global nuclear power.” China’s business climate doesn’t have to compensate for union labor, quality control standards, disaster preparedness plans, or financial liabilities which make the US reactor business costs just too high.
Areva’s announcement led Unistar Nuclear Energy and its giant partner Constellation Energy to withdraw their application for construction and operating licenses for the proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 reactor in Maryland. Their application referenced the US EPR design and could not have been approved before Areva’s new reactor was certified. The reversal means writing off a large investment by EDF/Unistar/Constellation, which pursued the Calvert Cliffs 3 licenses for eight years, initially applying to the NRC in 2007.
Calvert Cliffs 3 represented the last active plan for new reactors involving the US EPR design. In 2013, Unistar withdrew its application for a US EPR at Nine Mile Point in New York. AmerenUE dumped its plan for Callaway 2 in Missouri in 2009, and PPL Electric Utilities suspended its application for Bell Bend in Pennsylvania in 2014.
—World Nuclear News; & Engineering360, Mar. 6, 2015