NRC Issues Early Site Permit to Tennessee Valley Authority for SMRs at Clinch River Site

LCG, December 27, 2019--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced on December 17 that the Commission has authorized the issuance of an Early Site Permit (ESP) for Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The ESP closes several site-related issues, including many environmental impacts, for small modular reactors (SMRs) at the site. The ESP is the first issued by the NRC for SMRs and will be valid for up to 20 years from date of issuance.

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NRC Issues Subsequent License Renewals for First Time to Nuclear Reactors in Florida

LCG, December 11, 2019--The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff recently approved Florida Power & Light's (FPL's) application for an additional 20 years of operation for Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Units 3 and 4. This is the first time the NRC has issued renewed licenses authorizing reactor operation from 60 to 80 years. The subsequent (or second) license renewals (SLRs) for Turkey Point Unit 3 and Unit 4 now expire on July 19, 2052 and April 10, 2053, respectively.

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Industry News

Sierra Club Loses Challenge of Air Permit Issued for New Gas-fired Power Plant in Texas

LCG, March 21, 2014 - The United States Environmental Appeals Board rejected on March 14 a Sierra Club petition for a review of an air permit issued to La Paloma Energy Center LLC for a gas-fired, combined-cycle power project in Harlingen, Texas. With the decision, an obstacle in the path towards construction is set aside. The project is being developed by Coronado Power Ventures, LLC and Bechtel.

Last November, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 issued the permit to La Paloma Energy Center, LLC (LPEC). The permit authorizes LPEC to construct and operate a 637-MW to 735-MW natural gas-fired power plant. In December, the Sierra Club filed a petition challenging the La Paloma permit on the grounds that the EPA erred or abused its discretion by failing to base the emissions limits for each of the plant's three gas combustion turbine (CT) units on the energy efficiency of the most efficient of three technologies proposed by the developer.

The Environmental Appeals Board stated in its March 14 order denying review of the prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit, "Sierra Club has failed to demonstrate that the Region clearly erred or abused its discretion in establishing the GHG permit limits for the combustion turbines at the proposed LPEC facility. The Board finds no support in EPA's Best Available Control Technology [BACT] guidance for Sierra Club's position that the three specific turbine models proposed by LPEC must be identified as separate control technologies throughout the Region's five-step analysis." The Board concluded that the Region had a rational basis for its determinations that all three of the permitted turbine models considered are comparably efficient, that the assigned BACT limits are substantially equivalent except for marginal differences attributable to capacity, and that the GHG emission limits for all three turbine models represent BACT for highly efficient combined cycle combustion turbines.

The Sierra Club also challenged the permit on the grounds the EPA did not require LPEC to consider a design incorporating solar thermal energy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions because the Region incorrectly concluded that solar technology would redefine the source of the GHGs. However, the Board concluded, "Under the circumstances of this case, the business purposes and site-specific constraints described in the administrative record support the Region's conclusion that the addition of supplemental solar power to this facility would constitute redesign of the source."
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