SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Prevent TVA’s Bellefonte Reactors


VICTORY!!! TVA suspends plans to develop Bellefonte nuclear site!

Take the pollwhat would you do with the Bellefonte site?

TVA Urged to Protect Tennessee River Waterfront During Sale of Bellefonte

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and our partners have worked for many years to stop the Tennessee Valley Authority’s risky plan to complete its two aging Bellefonte reactors (Units 1 & 2) in Hollywood, near Scottsboro, Alabama along the Tennessee River as the proposal posed serious financial and public safety risks. TVA also hoped to build two new AP1000 design reactors at the site (Units 3 & 4), but those plans have also now been been officially cancelled as costs skyrocketed and the need for additional baseload power diminished. Despite the TVA Board’s decision in 2011 to turn their attention back to completing the original Bellefonte reactor units 1 and 2, TVA announced in February 2016 that they were cancelling ALL plans to build any nuclear reactors at the site and are considering selling the property!

stopbellefonteafar_-_sace.jpgTHANK YOU for helping TVA realize that Bellefonte was a bad bet! The financial and safety risks were too great to invest billions and billions of dollars.

Though TVA’s Board of Directors unanimously approved completing the old Bellefonte reactors back in August 2011, SACE and our partners continued to urge them to reject the risky project, as there are cheaper, clean and safe energy options that don’t pose such overwhelming risks. TVA’s Final 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) showed that Bellefonte was not needed to meet customer demand – and none of the strategies in the IRP include completion of Bellefonte Units 1 and 2. In fact, the IRP stated that the “ultimate fate of this plant will eventually be decided by the TVA Board of Directors.”

At the TVA Board meeting on May 5, 2016 the Board approved the site as surplus and authorized the sale to the highest bidder for unrestricted use. Though many billions of dollars were spent on this site, the appraised value was only $36.4 million! Once again, another nuclear boondoggle hits TVA’s customers.


SACE High Risk Energy

Read our report that included a technical analysis of the hurdles and risks posed by Bellefonte 1 and 2 by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen with Fairewinds Associates. Find a summary of his findings in a video here. As for the now cancelled AP1000 reactors at Bellefonte, several organizations including SACE and BREDL filed contentions in the Bellefonte licensing case with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) based on the findings of the NRC’s Japan Fukushima Dai-ichi accident task force report, which were ultimately rejected.

High Costs
TVA spent $4.6 billion building the two Bellefonte reactors, before halting the project in 1988 with Unit 1 nearly 90% complete and Unit 2 ~58% complete. Finishing the reactors was since estimated to cost about twice that amount: Unit 1 at $4-5 billion and reactor Unit 2 at $3-4 billion. The costs then increased even more with 2013 estimates of ~$11 billion (and don’t forget the original $4.6 billion spent decades ago). Because of TVA’s significant debt, completing these reactors while staying below TVA’s $30 billion debt limit would have meant more rate increases for Valley residents.

Lack of Operational History
The Babcock and Wilcox Mark C “205” reactor design is from the 1960’s and never operated here in the U.S. Only four reactors of this design were ever ordered: the two unfinished Bellefonte reactors and a partially built reactor in Washington that was cancelled. The only reactor that ever operated was in Germany–for less than a year. It is highly unlikely that today’s nuclear industry, including TVA, has any experience operating this antiquated design. Further, especially in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, this old design would likely not have met new safety standards. In fact, the abandoned Bellefonte reactors were specifically mentioned in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Task Force report on Fukushima as likely needing to have all 12 of their recommendations applied.

Troubled History
After abandoning its construction permit, TVA “cannibalized” the unfinished reactors for spare parts between 2006-2009 when the cancelled Bellefonte project was no longer under oversight from the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission. No one, not even TVA, knows exactly what happened during this period, but it is certain that workers with no nuclear training or safety experience were allowed to access the site. What type of contamination or damage occurred is unknown.

There are additional safety concerns. Structural damage to the containment vessel was discovered in 2009, when one of the “vertical tendons” broke. The extent of the damage is currently unclear, but may be similar to the significant problems that plagued the troubled Crystal River 3 reactor in Florida, which remained offline for three years as repairs were unsuccessfully pursued. Consequently, Duke Energy announced the closure of Crystal River 3 in February 2013–after many billions of dollars were spent, leaving ratepayers unfairly on the hook.

Safe, Affordable Energy Choices Exist
Investing in the Valley’s energy efficiency and renewable energy resources would bring clean, safe energy to the Valley while promoting job creation and affordably and equitably addressing Global Climate Change.