NRC Says Foreign Ownership Could Preclude Licensing of New South Texas Project Reactors

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has determined that foreign ownership could keep Nuclear Innovation North America from pursuing a license for new reactors at the South Texas Project.

South Texas Project. Source: NRC"On reviewing your application and all other relevant material, including the changes to Part 1 included in Revision 9 to your (combined license) application, the staff made its evaluation relative to foreign ownership, control, or domination of NINA. The staff has determined that NINA and its wholly owned subsidiaries (NINA Texas 3 LLC and NINA Texas 4 LLC) continue to be under foreign ownership, control or domination and do not meet the requirements of Section 103d of the Atomic Energy Act or the requirements of 10 CFR 50.38," NRC staff wrote in a letter Monday.

Federal law restricts the amount of ownership foreign companies can hold in U.S. nuclear plants – a requirement that has also stymied efforts by French-owned EDF to invest in new reactors at Maryland's Calvert Cliffs plant. In Texas, the ownership structure changed after the accidents at Fukushima Daiichi killed a planned $155 million investment from Tokyo Electric Power Co. Work beyond applications for the license and a loan guarantee were put on hold in 2011.

In its letter, the NRC said Japan-based Toshiba is now the sole source of financing for STP units 3 and 4 and effectively controls NINA.

Investors disagreed, telling the Dallas Morning News that NRG Energy controls 90 percent of NINA and that it plans to appeal the decision to the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. NRG, which holds the largest stake in the existing reactors at the plant, also told the paper it has not ruled out investment in the new units entirely, as currently cheap natural gas prices could change in the future.

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