US: NRC Denies Nuclear Reactor A License – The 2nd Time In history

U.S. denies reactor license — Only 2nd time in history (ENENews, Aug 30, 2012):

Title: Calvert Cliffs-3 Reactor License Denied; NRC Licensing Board Rules In Favor Of Intervenors, Says Atomic Energy Act
Source: PR Newswire
Author: Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Date: Aug 30, 2012
Emphasis Added

A three judge Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) today denied a license for the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 nuclear reactor on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland.

In a 29-page decision, the ASLB agreed with intervenors that the Calvert Cliffs-3 project would be in violation of the Atomic Energy Act’s prohibition against foreign ownership, control or domination, and that the project’s owner, UniStar Nuclear, is eligible neither to receive a license nor to even apply for a license. UniStar is 100% owned by the French government’s Electricite de France.


This is only the second time in history a reactor license has been denied by an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The first was the license application for the Byron reactor in Illinois in 1984, which was briefly denied because of quality assurance problems at the site. But that decision was quickly overturned on appeal as the utility already had initiated a program to correct the problems.

In this case, the ASLB is giving UniStar 60 more days to find a U.S. partner that might enable it to meet the foreign ownership restrictions before the ASLB declares the proceeding concluded. The decision noted that UniStar already has had nearly two years since it became solely owned by EDF to find a partner, and has not shown any progress toward that. UniStar can appeal this decision to the NRC Commissioners.

“This is a great day for Maryland,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which first filed the contention on foreign ownership in November 2008 and has been the pro se intervenor on the issue ever since. “Marylanders need not fear another dangerous nuclear reactor in our state, nor the accumulation of still more lethal radioactive waste on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.”

Mariotte added, “But this is also a blow to the so-called ‘nuclear renaissance.’ In the summer of 2007, Calvert Cliffs-3 became the first new reactor project to submit even a partial application in about 30 years. It was the flagship of the nuclear renaissance and now it is a symbol of the deservedly failed revival of nuclear power in the U.S. That UniStar has been unable to find a single U.S. utility to partner with it in this extraordinarily expensive project speaks volumes about the lack of genuine interest in new nuclear reactors in the U.S.”


A copy of the decision is here:

A copy of the decision on the solar and wind contention (Contention 10C) is here:

A copy of the decision on the Fukushima Task Force contention (Contention 11) is here:

On July 26, 2012, NIRS held a press briefing to discuss the upcoming ASLB decision and its implications for Calvert Cliffs and the nuclear industry generally. That briefing can be heard here:

Statement of Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS, at the July 22, 2012 briefing is here:

A timeline of the Calvert Cliffs case is here:

h/t Anonymous tip

Title: NRC says French company can’t build Md. reactor
Source: Associated Press
Date: August 30, 2012 at 8:45 pm

A panel of judges says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can’t issue a license to a French company to build a new nuclear power plant in Maryland as long as it is completely foreign-owned.


The judges say UniStar has 60 days to provide proof of progress toward a partnership with a U.S. company that meets the NRC’s requirements.

Title: Reprieve for Proposed Third Maryland Reactor Just Delays the Inevitable French Nuclear Demise Almost Complete in the US
Source: Beyond Nuclear
Date: August 30, 2012
Emphasis Added

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today gave a 60 day reprieve to embattled French governmental electric utility, Électricité de France (EDF), which remains in violation of the Atomic Energy Act while attempting to obtain a license for a third nuclear reactor at the Calvert Cliffs, MD site. But Beyond Nuclear, which has opposed the third reactor and supports a nuclear phase out, views the decision as simply a delay in the inevitable cancellation of all French reactor plans on US soil.

In a decision released late Thursday, the NRC found applicants Calvert Cliffs 3 Nuclear Project and Unistar “ineligible to obtain a license because they are owned by a United States (U.S.) corporation that is 100 percent owned by a foreign corporation.” However, the agency gave the applicants another 60 days to come up with the hitherto elusive US partner. If they fail to do so, “this proceeding will be closed,” the NRC order stated.

Calvert Cliffs 3 was intended to be an Areva design known in the US as the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR). Areva is an energy corporation 90% owned by the French government. The application for the new reactor project was filed by UniStar, a corporate merger between EDF and its US domestic partner, Baltimore, MD-based Constellation Energy. But when Constellation withdrew from the project in 2010, citing the overriding financial risks of new reactor construction, EDF, a foreign corporation, was left as sole controlling owner, a violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

“The NRC’s decision is just postponing the inevitable,” said Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear, one of the interveners opposing the Calvert Cliffs EPR application. “When Constellation ran for the exits two years ago, the writing was already on the wall,” Gunter continued. “It’s clear that nuclear energy development has become an economic black hole that smart CEOs are avoiding like the plague,” he said.

The EPR in Europe is an on-going financial and technical disaster. The two EPR projects under construction in Finland and France have both run into constant and lengthy delays, managerial problems, legal challenges, technical flaws and enormous cost over-runs. The Finnish EPR at Olkiluoto, abandoned by original partner Siemens, is now five years behind schedule and 120% over-budget.

The EPR underway in Flamanville, France is four years behind the completion schedule with soaring cost over-runs that exceed $7.5 billion. Three government safety regulators – from Finland, France and the UK – have raised safety concerns about Areva’s EPR design.

Areva had originally planned for seven EPR reactors at six US sites, in Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas. But Calvert Cliffs was considered the “reference reactor” by the NRC. Its ultimate cancelation would effectively nullify the others.

“It’s just a matter of time – 60 days in fact – before we see the phantom promise of the so-called ‘new generation’ French reactor evaporate here in the US,” said Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. “In fact, industry-wide, nuclear power is proving too expensive and too risky with multi-year delays, fleeing corporate partners and ballooning costs the norm.”


For details on the shutdowns, cancelations, and cost-over-runs of nuclear projects in the US and worldwide, see the Beyond Nuclear Retreat web page at and World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012, by Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt at

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