Progress Energy hopes for extension

The reactor at the Crystal River plant is the same Babcock-Wilcox design that was used in the Three Mile Island facility, where a major accident occurred in March 1979. The Florida Public Service Commission has already approved a Nuclear Cost Recovery Clause for Progress Energy that allows the utility to charge its customers in advance for the "uprate" to the Crystal River reactor (extending its life span for 20 years - 60 years in all) and also to recover all costs associated with the construction of its new Levy County nuclear facility, located about 10 miles from the Crystal River plant.

Note: Listen online to WMNF's Wednesday April 22 "Radioactivity" program with Rob Lorei for an excellent one-hour interview with Mary Olson of NIRS about the Levy County Nuclear Plant and nuclear power issues. You can leave recorded comments about the program and Rob will play them back on tomorrow's program. ~MC
Its nuclear power plant's license may be extended another 20 years after its current contract ends in 2016.

File Photo
Here is a view of the nuclear plant from West Fort Island Trail , located about 9 miles from
US Highway 19, Thursday afternoon, Feb. 14, 2007, Crystal River, FL.

By Fred Hiers, Staff Writer
Gainesville Sun | Friday, April 17, 2009
CRYSTAL RIVER - Progress Energy's hope of renewing its nuclear power plant's 40-year operating license for another 20 years came a little closer to being realized Thursday.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public hearing Thursday afternoon as part of its decision whether to grant the 33-year-old plant another two decades of operation after 2016.
Only four members of the public came to the 2 p.m. meeting, all of whom were in favor of the NRC renewing the plant's license.
NRC officials explained the process the commission would follow in deciding whether to renew the license, including environmental impact of the plant and its ability to continue safe operations, and how plant staff would contend with aging infrastructure.
"Nuclear energy keeps America's businesses competitive, and the plants themselves are incredible job resources for Crystal River and surrounding communities," said town resident Andrija Vukmir. "Nuclear power plants, which do not emit carbon dioxide, account for the majority of the voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the power sector."
The NRC will accept comments from the public until June 6.
The next several steps of the two-year renewal process will involve a general environmental impact study of the plant, performed by Progress Energy.
The NRC will then do its own impact study.
It will be focusing on any unique aspects of the Crystal River area in relationship to the nuclear plant.
The environmental impact study will consider such issues as water usage by the plant during the past 33 years and whether water quality in areas close to the plant have diminished.
The study will look at whether the plant has had any adverse effects on local wildlife and, if it has, how the impact can be corrected, said NRC spokesman Roger Hannah
Hannah said public participation is important because local residents often are more familiar with environmental issues than hired consultants.
The NRC will consult with local and state agencies in conducting its environmental impact study, Hannah said.
The renewal process also will involve three plant safety inspection visits by the NRC during the next two years, Hannah said.
The plant already has two NRC inspectors on site year-round who review operations to ensure public safety.
The plant employs about 500 people.
Progress has four additional nuclear reactor units in North Carolina and South Carolina, licenses for which have all been renewed.