NRC issues first Early Site Permit

15 March 2007

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has voted to approve an Early Site Permit (ESP) for Exelon Generation Co to develop a new station at its Clinton Power Station site, in Central Illinois.

The 20-year ESP resolves certain environmental, site and planning issues with regard to the possible construction and operation of a new nuclear plant and allows Exelon to “bank” a site for a possible power plant. However, should the company decide to build a power plant, it would need to apply for a combined operating licence. Nonetheless, the NRC found that there are no environmental impacts that would prevent issuing the ESP which allows some preliminary site work to commence.

“This is the last major hurdle in the process. We are very pleased with how the early site permit process has progressed,” said Marilyn Kray, of Exelon Nuclear, adding: “Certain conditions would have to fall into place before Exelon would consider building a plant: a workable solution to the spent fuel disposal problem; community acceptance; the right reactor technology; and the economics must be favourable.” Exelon, which was the first company to submit an ESP application, is now expecting the permit to be issued within the next week, making it the first company to receive an early site permit under a never before used licensing process.

The existing $4.25 billion station, located 10km east of Clinton, began generation in 1987 and has a capacity of 1,043 MW.

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