TVA wants permits back for partially built plant

HOLLYWOOD, ALABAMA - TVA has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to re-issue construction permits for two unfinished nuclear units that have lain dormant for about two decades at the Bellefonte site in northeastern Alabama.

The electric-power producer is considering the option of finishing the units to help provide for future needs in the region, according to a TVA announcement.

TVA is also pursuing a partnership with private companies and others to possibly build two other reactors at the site.

“We intend to thoroughly explore potential power supply sources to determine the best and most cost-effective methods of meeting future power needs in the Tennessee Valley,” TVA Chief Operating Officer Bill McCollum said in the announcement.

“That includes energy efficiency and demand reduction, which we are currently pursuing aggressively, as well as adding new generating units as the demand for power grows.”

One selling point for nuclear power has been that reactors doesn't emit carbon, so wouldn't add to global warming.

TVA deferred construction on Units 1 and 2 at Bellefonte in Hollywood, AL, in the late 1980s. The NRC approved TVA’s request to cancel the construction permits in early 2006.

Members of several citizen groups including the Bellefonte Sustainability and Efficiency Team have questioned the wisdom of building the reactors. They say there is no solution for safely dealing with highly radioactive nuclear wastes, there is a potential for error and terrorist activity to unleash dangerous materials and costs will likely be too high for ratepayers.

They have asked for estimated pricetags of the reactors, but TVA has provided no information.

Agency officials told The Tennessean recently that there are not yet estimates for what the reactors might cost.

TVA describes it’s process as more exploratory than anything.

“Reinstating the permits now would help TVA clarify the regulatory requirements and continue to evaluate the feasibility of using Units 1 and 2 to meet future base load power demand.” said TVA Senior Vice President of Nuclear Generation Development & Construction Ashok Bhatnagar.

The large part of Nashville Electric Service ratepayers’ bills and bills of electricity users throughout Tennessee and parts of six others states goes to cover TVA costs.



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