The Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant's proposed expansion took a major step forward Monday.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers released a statement that no environmental issues stand in the way of licensing the construction and operation of two new reactors.
Meanwhile, a federal inspection of its two existing reactors, Units 1 and 2, received a favorable report, NRC officials said during a public meeting at the Somervell County Expo last Thursday evening. The inspection came after Japan's nuclear disaster sparked a nationwide emergency preparedness check of nuclear plants.
The federal agencies issued a “final environmental impact statement” for the proposed Comanche Peak Units 3 and 4 after a series of hearings. The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board's panel examining opponents' contentions dismissed their arguments that adding two additional nuclear reactors to the plant would create serious environmental and safety concerns.
In an interview with the Dallas Business Journal last month, Luminant Chief Executive Officer David Campbell said Luminant hasn't changed its long-term plans in the wake of the Japanese disaster after an earthquake and tsunami crippled a nuclear plant.
“You may want to ask, will the plant get built?” Campbell told the business journal. “We simply don't know for sure right now. We're going to approach it step by step. Fortunately, we don't have to make that decision today. We're still pursuing a construction and operating license.”
The earliest the new reactors could begin operating is 2021.
Federal loan guarantees are critical to the project, Luminant has said. Congressman Bill Flores, who represents Somervell County, has said he supports them, but others in Congress aren't so sure. The cost of the expansion has been estimated at $15 billion to $20 billion.
NRC officials said after the meeting in Glen Rose last week that a safety review of the proposed expansion will be delayed 18 months. The agency will review the design of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries advanced pressurized water reactor, which will be the type used in the proposed Comanche Peak expansion.
The NRC examined 104 reactors in the United States after the Japanese incident. NRC officials said Comanche Peak is "well-prepared" to deal with threats such as earthquakes, fires or floods.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that the commission found that a lube-oil storage building at the plant could potentially pose a "fire/explosion hazard" and that the plant's "fire brigade" had not undergone training in using its on-site firetruck to draft water from the adjoining Squaw Creek reservoir.
The final environmental impact statement is available on the NRC’s Web site at www.nrc.gov or at the Somervell County Library.