Ameren picks site for possible nuclear reactor

Sunday, July 22, 2007

FULTON, Mo. -- If Ameren Corp. decides to build a new reactor, it would erect it on a site adjacent to its Callaway nuclear plant southeast of Fulton, the company said.

The St. Louis-based utility in April announced a deal with UniStar Nuclear of Annapolis, Md., to prepare a license application for a nuclear plant. But it didn't specify a site for the new 1,600-megawatt reactor.

In a letter sent June 1 to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Tim Herrmann, the utility's vice president of nuclear engineering, said Ameren had chosen the Callaway site but it still hasn't decided whether to build another plant.

Ameren didn't specify where a new plant would be located in relation to the existing unit at Fulton. The company owns 7,200 acres at the site, and 6,300 acres are administered by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

"Our position remains that none of this really represents a decision to build," spokeswoman Susan Gallagher told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday.

A decision on the need for a new base-load power plant, which is a coal- or nuclear-fueled plant that's remains on all the time, is still years away, Ameren said.

But the utility began the process of planning because it's considering a nuclear plant, which requires a lengthy regulatory process to be eligible for special federal tax incentives under the 2005 federal Energy Policy Act.

Ameren is taking other steps to prepare for the possible new plant. The company said it has a contract with France's Areva ANP for reservations for 44 alloy-steel forgings for a reactor pressure vessel and four steam generators.

Japan Steel Works, which produces the extra-large forgings used for reactor pressure vessels has a multi-year backlog, said Mitch Singer, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group. That means companies planning to build new plants have to line up for the components while license applications are being prepared and reviewed.

While no company has committed to building a new nuclear plant, the NRC expects to receive applications for at least 28 new reactors, including a second unit at Callaway, in the next two years, according to the agency's Web site.

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