STATUS: In progress with opposition
OPPOSITION: Bellefonte Efficiency & Sustainability Team (“BEST“); Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League; Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
BACKGROUND: Bellefonte’s Unit 1 was about 85 percent complete and Unit 2 about 55 percent finished when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) abandoned the project in 1988 after spending $4.2 billion on it. At the time, TVA cited its debt and a reduced demand for electricity. The utility opted about two years ago to partner with NuStart, a consortium of nuclear utilities including TVA, to build a new plant rather than finish Bellefonte. The decision was based in part on the reactor design: the Westinghouse AP1000’ was newer and simpler than the original Bellefonte’s Babcock & Wilcox reactor. On October 30, 2007, TVA applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build Bellefonte Units 3 and 4, two Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors. TVA’s vice president of nuclear generation estimated Units 3 and 4 to cost up to $9 billion. Construction on Units 3 and 4 could begin in 2012 and 2013, respectively, and each one could be finished in five years. BEST and other environmental groups have organized local and regional opposition to the Bellefonte project. The groups’ concerns include high construction costs, radioactive releases into the air and water, reduction of water supply, security concerns and dangerous radioactive wastes.
On May 12, 2010, TVA announced a major change of direction for Bellefonte. Instead of moving forward with Units 3 and 4, TVA instead will attempt to complete construction on Unit 1, a single 1,260-megawatt (MW) Babcock and Wilcox (B&W)-designed nuclear unit. TVA included $248 million in its 2011 budget to move forward with this plan. TVA estimates it will cost between $4.3 billion and $4.7 billion to finish Bellefonte Unit 1. TVA has only temporarily shelved Units 3 and 4, and plans to complete the license application for this project.
LINKS: U.S. NRC (http: //www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/col/bellefonte.html);
The Huntsville Times (http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/local.ssf?/base/news/1234952123217220.xml&coll=1; http://www.al.com/business/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/business/1217668543175460.xml&coll=1; http://blog.al.com/breaking/2010/04/tva_ceo_expects_bellefonte_nuc.html);
TVA website (http://www.tva.gov/environment/reports/blnp/index.htm);
Scottsboro Daily Sentinel (http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_e27b43ec-d65a-11df-ba5a-001cc4c002e0.html).
Last Updated: November 2, 2010