The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has upheld a decision to deny a combined construction permit and operating license (COL) for the proposed Calvert Cliffs 3 (CC3) nuclear power plant in Maryland.
On Monday the NRC issued an order rejecting a petition of review from Unistar Nuclear Energy of an August 2012 ruling from the commission's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board denying the COL application for the CC3 project.
The move marks the first time in history that the NRC has upheld a license denial for a commercial nuclear reactor, reports Nuclear Power International.
At the root of the NRC decision is the 1954 Atomic Energy Act, which prohibits foreign companies from obtaining an operating license for US nuclear power plants.
Plans for a third reactor at Maryland’s sole nuclear power site were submitted in 2008 by Unistar when the company was jointly owned by US corporation Constellation Energy and French owned Electricite de France (EDF). However, in October 2010, the CC3 project suffered a serious set-back when Constellation withdrew from negotiations for a $7.5 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. federal government to fund the nearly $9.6 billion undertaking.
That same year EDF and Constellation settled disputes surrounding the CC3 nuclear project through a transfer of assets. Under the terms of the agreement, EDF acquired Constellation's 50 percent stake in Unistar for $140 million to become the sole owner of the nuclear subsidiary.
Although the agreement had revived hopes for the CC3 project, EDF was still tasked with finding another US based partner in order to see the development come to fruition under current federal regulations. Unistar has stated it is still committed to the project and seeking a new US investor.
While considered another significant setback for the development of CC3, the NRC’s latest order also highlighted the commission would review its policies regarding foreign ownership and recommend whether it should consider modifications.
To be built in Southern Maryland, the CC3 nuclear project proposes the construction of a new reactor alongside Constellation Energy’s existing Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant. The new plant would generate about 1,600 megawatts of electricity to serve the Mid-Atlantic region.