The NRC issued its first site approval for a nuclear power plant in 30 years.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday approved the first Early Site Permit for a nuclear power plant - demonstrating a new and previously untested licensing process for locating new nuclear plants in the United States. Critics say new nuclear plants are not needed if energy conservation is implemented.
The approval - for Exelon Generation Company's Clinton site, in central Illinois - was hailed by U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman as "a major milestone" in the Bush administration's plan to expand the use of nuclear power.
"NRC approval of the Clinton Early Site Permit represents a major accomplishment in this administrationís effort to address the barriers and stimulate deployment of new nuclear power plants in the United States," Bodman said.
"By demonstrating effectiveness and predictability in the licensing process, utilities will have the information they need to make sound business decisions that can lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants," he said.
The Early Site Permit resolves environmental, site suitability and emergency planning issues with regard to the possible construction and operation of a new nuclear plant next to the Clinton Power Station in Clinton, Illinois. Exelon has not decided to move forward with building a new nuclear plant.
The Early Site Permit process was established by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, in 1989 for utilities to complete the site and environmental evaluations before a decision is made to build a nuclear plant.
Once issued, the permit is valid for 20 years and can be used in conjunction with a subsequent combined Construction and Operating License application.
Look for a lot more of these over the next few years as the nuclear industry gears up in the United States.