TVA Ends Key Link to Long-Unfinished Alabama Nuclear Plant
The Tennessee Valley Authority told a federal regulator it won’t renew permits requiring it to maintain the partially completed 1,256-MW Bellefonte nuclear plant site in northeast Alabama—officially ending any plan to finish work that was started in the 1970s and indicating new redevelopment plans.
TVA’s mid-September notice to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission asking to cancel extension of the site’s combined construction and operating permit, which was to expire Oct. 1, follows a federal court ruling in late August that the federal power producer could terminate a $111-million site purchase contract signed in 2016 by a private developer who said he would finish the project.
The U.S. district court decision comes in a 2018 complaint by purchaser Nuclear Development LLC that claimed TVA breached its sales agreement for Bellefonte.
TVA argued that under federal law, NRC must approve permit transfer before the plant’s sale could be finished and that Nuclear Development filed its application with the agency too late to allow enough time for approval.
The developer’s failure to secure approval in time “was attributable entirely to [its] slow decision-making and casual approach to the transfer-application process,” Judge Lisle Burke said in an Aug. 26 ruling.
Burke attributed the delay to Nuclear Development’s indecision related to the project’s quality assurance program required under federal law. All permit transfer applications must include a QA description for design, fabrication, construction and testing of facility structures, systems, and components.
Nuclear Development could not decide whether to hire SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., Exelon “or some other company with requisite experience” in time to file a timely transfer request, Burke’s ruling said. “In short, it was Nuclear Development’s own actions that prevented the timely submission of the license-transfer application,” he said. An executive of Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, which was previously noted as the developer’s EPC contractor, testified in the breach of contract trial.