NRC mandatory hearing on new Fermi reactor set Feb. 4

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will conduct a mandatory hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 4, on an application for a Combined License (COL) to build and operate a new reactor at the Fermi site near Newport, Mich. This hearing marks the third time a COL application has reached the final step in the agency’s Part 52 reactor licensing process.

“This hearing allows Commissioners to independently and carefully evaluate whether the NRC staff’s safety and environmental reviews are sufficient to support the necessary regulatory findings,” said NRC Chairman Stephen G. Burns. “The complex job of reviewing a reactor license application is a critical part of our regulatory and safety mission.”

The Commission’s hearing will include testimony and exhibits from applicant DTE Electric Company, as well as NRC staff, on the question of whether the staff’s review adequately supports the findings necessary to issue a COL.

The hearing will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 4 in the Commission Hearing Room at NRC Headquarters, 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. The Commission will continue the hearing on additional days if necessary. The hearing will be open to public observation and will be webcast. A detailed agenda and presentation slides will be available in advance on the Commission’s meeting transcript page.

DTE Electric Company is applying for permission to build and operate an Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) at the Fermi site, adjacent to the company’s existing reactor. The company submitted its Fermi COL application on Sept. 18, 2008. The NRC certified the 1,600-megawatt ESBWR design following a Commission vote in September 2014. More information on the ESBWR certification process is available on the NRC website.

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 committee provided the results of its review to the Commission on Sept. 22, 2014. The NRC completed its environmental review and issued the final impact statement for the proposed Fermi reactor in January 2013. The NRC completed and issued the FSER on Nov. 19, 2014.