Proposed Fermi 3 nuclear power reactor earns positive EIS from NRC

Source:U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded there are no environmental impacts to preclude issuing a Combined License (COL) to build and operate the proposed Fermi Unit 3 near Newport, Mich.

The NRC developed the Fermi project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) jointly with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District. The Corps will use the document’s information in considering its federal permit decision in accordance with the Clean Water Act and Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899.

Issuing the statement is an important milestone in the overall Fermi 3 COL review, which continues. The staff continues working on a final safety evaluation report, which will include a review by the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, an independent group of nuclear safety experts. The NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, a group of independent administrative law judges, is currently considering legal challenges to the Fermi application. The NRC’s five Commissioners will conduct a separate mandatory hearing regarding the application and the staff’s review, when completed.

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While all of these review activities continue, a Commission Order from August 2012 directs the staff to hold off on any new reactor license decisions until completion of a rulemaking and environmental impact statement to update the waste confidence decision, expected by September 2014. If the rulemaking leaves any Fermi-specific issues unresolved, those issues will be addressed separately. All of this work must be completed before the NRC can reach a final decision on the Fermi application.

Detroit Edison (NYSE:DTE) submitted a COL application Sept. 18, 2008, seeking permission to construct and operate an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor at the Fermi site, adjacent to the company’s existing reactor approximately 25 miles northeast of Toledo, Ohio. General Electric-Hitachi Nuclear Energy submitted an application to certify its 1,600-megawatt electric design, on Aug. 24, 2005.

The FEIS is available on the NRC website. The NRC staff, in cooperation with the Corps, started the environmental review in late 2008 by gathering community input on what issues should be considered. The agencies issued a draft EIS in October 2011 and met with the local community again in December 2011 for additional comments.

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