NRC issues final environmental review on early permit for PSEG project

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Philadelphia District, have completed the final environmental impact statement (EIS) on an Early Site Permit (ESP) for a possible Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE: PEG) nuclear plant to be built in Salem County, New Jersey.

The NRC said in a notice to be published in the Nov. 20 Federal Register that it has found no issues within the final EIS that would preclude this project. A notice of availability of the draft EIS was published by the NRC in the Federal Register in August 2014. Public comments received on the draft are addressed in the final EIS. The final EIS supports the USACE’s review of the Department of the Army permit application for certain construction activities on the PSEG site.

“As discussed in the final EIS, the NRC staff’s recommendation related to the environmental aspects of the proposed action is that the ESP should be issued,” said the Nov. 20 notice. “This recommendation is based on: 1) the environmental report (ER) submitted by PSEG Power, LLC, and PSEG Nuclear, LLC (PSEG), as revised; 2) consultation with Federal, State, Tribal and local agencies; 3) the NRC staff’s independent review; 4) the NRC staff’s consideration of comments received during the environmental review; and 5) the assessments summarized in the final EIS, including the potential mitigation measures identified in the ER and in the final EIS. In addition, in making its preliminary recommendation, the NRC staff has concluded that there are no environmentally preferable or obviously superior sites in the region of interest.”

This final EIS has been prepared in response to an application submitted in May 2010 by the PSEG companies. The proposed actions requested in the PSEG application are: the NRC issuance of an ESP for the PSEG Site located adjacent to the existing Hope Creek Generating Station and Salem Generating Station Units 1 and 2 in Lower Alloways Creek Township, Salem County, New Jersey; and a USACE permit action on a Department of the Army permit application to perform certain construction activities on the site.

The NRC review team assessed the need for the power that would be produced by the proposed project and determined that if the plant were to be built on schedule (i.e., by 2021), there would be a demonstrated need for the capacity of the largest proposed reactor design, such that the benefits of the proposed project (i.e., the power it would provide) would be realized.

For purposes of the ESP application, PSEG has not yet selected a specific reactor technology. PSEG developed this application using parameters from the following four reactor technologies:

  • Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000) (two units),
  • U.S. Evolutionary Power Reactor (U.S. EPR) (one unit),
  • Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) (one unit),
  • U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US-APWR) (one unit).

The purpose and need for the NRC proposed action (i.e., ESP issuance) is to provide for early resolution of site safety and environmental issues, which provides stability in the licensing process. Although no reactor would be built at the PSEG Site under this action (the ESP), to resolve environmental issues the staff assumed in this EIS that a reactor with the parameters specified by PSEG would be built and operated. One of the issues addressed by this EIS is the projected shortfall in baseload capacity within the state of New Jersey in 2021. The ESP would resolve site suitability issues related to the building and operation of a new nuclear power plant that would provide up to 2,200 MW of new baseload capacity. This would meet a portion of the expected 2021 power deficit.

Although actual construction and operation of the facility would not take place unless and until an NRC license were granted, certain lead-time activities, such as ordering and procuring certain components and materials necessary to construct the plant, may begin before the license is granted. As a result, without the ESP review process there could be a considerable expenditure of funds, commitment of resources, and passage of time before site safety and environmental issues are finally resolved.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.