NRC to hold public meeting about Callaway County reactor application process

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | 4:58 p.m. CDT; updated 10:09 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a meeting this evening in Fulton to talk about the application review process for a proposed nuclear reactor in Callaway County. The meeting will be from 7 to 9:30 p.m. in Champ Auditorium on the Westminster College campus.

The reactor, if built, would be near the county’s existing reactor, which is operated by AmerenUE.

AmerenUE spokesman Mike Cleary said the company intends to file an application with the commission for a combined construction and operating license for the new reactor in late July or early August.

Cleary said the timing of the application “basically saves our place in line, so to speak” for certain tax credits under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, but the company hasn’t yet decided whether it will actually build the reactor.

That decision will not be made until late 2010 or early 2011, Cleary said.

Today’s meeting comes early in the regulatory process because AmerenUE hasn’t yet submitted the license application, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said.

“AmerenUE has informed us that they intend to submit an application in the near future, and we’re working under the assumption that they are going to do that,” Burnell said.

Burnell said the projected overall project manager for the review, the head for the application’s environmental review and specialists on various other aspects of the review process will attend the meeting.

The commission will also hold an open house from 6 to 7 p.m. to give members of the public a chance to discuss concerns informally with the staff members.

During that open house, Missourians for Safe Energy and other groups opposed to the reactor’s construction will hold a news conference outside the auditorium.

“Nuclear plants take too long to build,” Mark Haim, co-founder of Missourians for Safe Energy, said. “They cost too much to build, and we can get much more net energy more quickly by investing in energy efficiency and renewables.”

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