On June 7, 2018, Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation — a U.S. wholly owned subsidiary of Japan’s Toshiba Corporation — announced plans to withdraw from a project to build two additional advanced boiling water reactor units at the South Texas Project (STP) site in Matagorda County, Texas.
According to news reports and a company press release, Toshiba officials scrapped their involvement in the estimated $15 million project due to a lack of investors.
According to a press release from Toshiba, company officials plan to cancel all contracts related to Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA), which was established by an agreement with NRG Energy Inc. in 2008 for the purpose of building the two additional STP units. The corporation will also cancel an engineering, procurement and construction contract it signed in 2009 with STP, as well as canceling deferred loans and forgiving loans under loan contracts.
“Under current and expected economic conditions, further development of STP Units 3 and 4 has ceased to be financially viable,” stated a press release from Toshiba. “In these circumstances, there is no clear pathway to securing profitability.”
Tim Powell, President and CEO of STP, stated in the release that a meeting of NINA’s Board of Directors is expected in the coming weeks to determine the future of STP Units 3 and 4. “While the further development of Units 3 and 4 are in question, I want to assure you that the safe and reliable operation of Units 1 and 2 remains the commitment of each and every employee at STP,” stated Powell. “These units continue to be vital to the resilience and reliability of the Texas grid and we are focused on maintaining the exemplary performance we have achieved and creating further value for the community we call home.”
“With our recently granted 20-year life extension for Units 1 and 2, that mission will continue today, tomorrow and for many years to come,” continued Powell. “STP remains a proud partner of Matagorda County and the South Texas region for over 30 years and will remain so as we continue to move forward.”
According to the release, Toshiba officials intend to meet with the NINA Board of Directors and continue the necessary withdrawal procedures with NRG. The release states that the corporation will have completely withdrawn from the project by the end of the year.
In February 2016, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued two Combined Licenses (COL) for the STP site in Texas. Based on the mandatory hearing on NINA’s application, the Commission found the staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings.
NRC staff imposed several conditions on the license, including:
- specific actions associated with the agency’s post-Fukushima requirements for Mitigation Strategies and Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation;
- requiring monitoring and analysis of the reactors’ steam dryers during initial plant startup, in line with current procedures for existing boiling-water reactors approved to operate at increased power levels; and,
- setting a pre-startup schedule for post-Fukushima aspects of the new reactor’s emergency preparedness plans and procedures.
- The NRC certified the 1,300-megawatt ABWR design in 1997. On September 20, 2007, NINA submitted its application for the licenses.
- The NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) independently reviewed aspects of the application that concern safety, as well as the staff’s Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER). The ACRS, a group of experienced technical experts, advises the Commission—independently from the NRC staff—on safety issues related to the licensing and operation of nuclear power plants, as well as on issues of health physics and radiation protection.
- The NRC completed its environmental review and issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the proposed STP reactors in February 2011. Four years later, on February 19, 2015, the ACRS provided the results of its review to the Commission. The NRC completed and issued the FSER on September 29, 2015.
STP’s two units produce 2,700 megawatts of carbon-free electricity — providing clean energy to 2 million Texas homes. According to STP officials, Units 3 and 4 would have doubled that production output and could have created about 800 additional jobs.
Additional information on the certification process is available on the NRC web site at nrc.gov. For additional information, please contact Scott Burnell of the NRC at (301) 415-8200.