Foreign Ownership Could Halt Licensing of South Texas Project Nuclear Reactors

Media Release:
For Immediate Release

October 1, 2011

Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition 512-797-8481
Brett Jarmer and Robert V. Eye, Attorneys, 785-234-4040
Susan Dancer, South Texas Association for Responsible Energy, 979-479-0627

Austin, Texas Opponents of two proposed South Texas Project nuclear reactors received a favorable order from Atomic Safety and Licensing Board judges allowing a full hearing to proceed regarding the project’s foreign ownership. Licensing efforts may be impacted as a result. In April, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Unistar Nuclear Energy it could not get an operating license for its planned reactor at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland because it was fully owned by France’s Électricité de France (EDF)-a foreign entity.

"Federal law is clear that foreign controlled corporations are not eligible to apply for a license to build and operate nuclear power plants. The evidence is that Toshiba is in control of the project and this precludes obtaining an NRC license for South Texas Project 3 & 4," said Brett Jarmer, a lawyer for the Intervenors; SEED Coalition, Public Citizen and South Texas Association for Responsible Energy.

"Foreign investment in U.S nuclear projects is not per se prohibited; but Toshiba is paying all the bills for the STP 3 & 4 project. This makes it difficult to accept that Toshiba doesn’t control the project," said attorney Robert Eye.

"National security and safety concerns justify NRC’s limits on foreign ownership and control of nuclear reactors," said Karen Hadden, Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. "What if a foreign company runs a U.S. reactor carelessly? What if a nation that’s friendly today becomes hostile toward the US in the future and tries threaten us with our own reactors?"

"Even if the reactors are operated by the South Texas Nuclear Operating Company, they will get their orders from foreign owners. What if their concerns are more about cost-cutting and less about safety?" asked Susan Dancer, President of South Texas Association for Responsible Energy. "Japanese investors would have us believe that they can come to America and safely build, own and operate nuclear plants, and that we should not concern ourselves with passé laws and regulations, but the Fukushima disaster has demonstrated the flawed Japanese model of nuclear safety. Our nuclear reactors should be controlled by the people most concerned about our country: fellow Americans."