The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has formally withdrawn the combined construction and operating licence (COL) application for unit 3 of Entergy’s Grand Gulf NPP, effective 22 September. The unit was to have a GE-Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR).

In 2007, NRC issued an Early Site Permit (ESP) to Grand Gulf and in 2008, Entergy and NuStart submitted a COL application. However, in January
2009, Entergy indefinitely postponed work and requested the temporary suspension of the COL application review. Entergy asked NRC to withdraw the application completely in February this year.

NRC granted the first COL for an ESBWR, for DTE Energy’s Fermi 3, in May. DTE Energy had long sought the licence for its planned Fermi 3 power station located near Detroit, but under the "prudent investor" rules that affect publically traded firms, the company said it has not yet committed to build the plant. NRC had imposed several post-Fukushima provisions on the licence, including specific accident mitigation measures and provisions for instrumentation of the used fuel pool. The start-up schedule contains requirements for enhanced emergency preparedness plans and procedures.

The steam drying was of particular concern, and NRC will require monitoring and analysis of the steam dryer’s performance during start-up, as a result of questions raised during its design review of the ESBWR. In January 2014, GE-Hitachi paid a $2.7m settlement to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to end allegations that it had made false statements concealing known flaws in the design of the steam dryer equipment. GE-Hitachi denied the allegations. DOJ said there has been no determination of liability.