CLAIBORNE COUNTY — Entergy Nuclear officials say the license renewal for the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant in Claiborne County remains on track.
Grand Gulf’s license expires in 2024, and an application to extend it an additional 20 years is expected to be finalized by September 2013.
On June 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out the so-called Waste Confidence Rule, used since 1984 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to license new reactors or relicense existing reactors for additional 20-year periods.
It held that highly radioactive fuel rods from reactors nationwide would be stored safely until a central repository was established.
“At this time, there is no reason to believe the court’s June 8 decision will impact the current license renewal schedule for Grand Gulf,” Entergy Nuclear spokeswoman Suzanne Anderson told the Vicksburg Post.
Two dozen environmental groups think differently. They have asked the NRC to halt a process to renew operating licenses at Grand Gulf and 16 others.
The District of Columbia court’s decision would require the NRC to analyze the impact of storing fuel rods for decades at a time while a more permanent repository is found, according to a release from Beyond Nuclear Inc., one of the groups who filed the petition with NRC.
Additional petitioners included the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and Public Citizen Inc., among others.
Other plants with pending renewals mentioned in the petition were Callaway Plant, in Missouri; Calvert Cliffs, in Maryland; Fermi Nuclear Power Plant, in Michigan; William States Lee III Nuclear Station, in South Carolina; Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, in Ohio; Turkey Point, in Florida; Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant, in Texas.
Seabrook Station, in New Hampshire; Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, in California; Bell Bend Nuclear Plant, in Pennsylvania; Shearon Harris Nuclear Plant, in North Carolina; Levy County Nuclear Plant, in Florida; South Texas Project, in Texas; Bellefont and Watts Bar nuclear plants, bothAlabama; and North Anna, in Virginia.
The Washington D.C.-based Nuclear Energy Institute said it was “disappointed” by the court’s decision but did urge the NRC “to act as expeditiously” to start the environmental analysis identified by the court.
“We also encourage the agency to reissue the rule as soon as possible,” the organization said.
This month, Grand Gulf began to wind down the refueling outage and power upgrade. More than 5,000 workers from 76 contracted companies and smaller subcontractors have worked to increase power generating capacity by 13 percent, which will make it the nation’s most powerful single reactor.