The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) request to change the unfinished Bellefonte Unit 1 & 2 reactors to ‘deferred’ status.

The change in status lets TVA evaluate the viability of completing construction and attempting to license the reactors for operation. TVA submitted a request in August 2009, to move the reactors to “deferred” status.

Unit 1’s construction permit will expire in October 2011, and unit 2’s permit will expire in October 2014. TVA has not indicated if it will seek to extend the permits, nor when it might seek to restart construction activities. TVA says it will give the NRC 120 days’ advance notice of any construction work, as well as provide information laid out in Commission policy to support such a decision.

The NRC granted construction permits for Bellefonte’s two pressurized-water reactors in 1974. By 1988, when TVA deferred completion of the plant, unit 1 was some 88% complete, and unit 2 was around 58% complete.