Constellation Energy Group Inc. has filed the first partial application to build a new nuclear reactor in the United States in almost 30 years.
Constellation filed an environmental report with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that seeks permission to build a third reactor at its Calvert Cliffs site in Lusby, according to documents on the commission's Web site.
"They're the first in the door with some part of a request to actually build a new reactor," Scott Burnell, spokesman for the commission, said yesterday.
The commission expects applications to build 27 new reactors this year and next. No new reactors have been ordered in the U.S. since 1978, a year before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island Unit 2 in Pennsylvania.
Constellation's application goes a step beyond other requests for environmental approval by the regulators, including filings for early-site permits by Exelon Corp., Southern Co. and Dominion Resources Inc.
"This is part of an application to actually build and operate" a new reactor, said Burnell. The other applications were "just to get our stamp of approval on a piece of land."
Constellation submitted the estimated 5,900-page report to the commission July 13.
The company might submit the rest of the application by the end of the year, George Vanderheyden, president of UniStar Nuclear, said yesterday.
The new reactor is proposed by UniStar Nuclear, a unit of Constellation. Constellation said this month that Electricite de France SA, the world's largest reactor operator, agreed to invest up to $625 million in UniStar to form a joint venture to build nuclear power plants in the United States and Canada. That deal has not closed.
Electricite de France initially plans to spend $350 million in cash and might buy up to 9.9 percent of Constellation shares to gain a toehold in the U.S. nuclear industry, the companies have said.
The full new reactor application requires detailed information that covers design, maintenance and service for a new nuclear plant. It includes reactor leakage detection systems, concrete radiation shields, accident monitors and safe shutdown procedures in the event of a tornado or earthquake.