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Published: Saturday, 10/11/2008

NRC posts filing for Fermi 3 online


Looking for some new reading material? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced yesterday it has put DTE Energy's application for a Fermi 3 reactor online.

That's, um, nearly 17,000 pages of engineering studies, minus proprietary or security-related details.

While that may not fall under the layman's definition of light reading, the agency has been putting applications online as it receives them. This one can be accessed at


The plant, to be built at a cost of $10 billion on the utility's Fermi complex northeast of Monroe, is one of two under consideration for construction in the Midwest. The other is in Missouri. Several other applications have come from the South.

DTE submitted the Fermi application Sept. 18. The utility has chosen a new breed of boiling-water reactor designed by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, one that is expected to produce about 1,500 megawatts of electricity. That's roughly enough for 1.5 million homes. A single megawatt powers about 1,000 homes.

More information about the plant's design is available at www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors/design-cert/esbwr.html.

The NRC is to spend four years on the application. By mid-November, it is to decide if it has enough information from the utility.

Information about the agency's new reactor licensing process is available on the NRC Web site at www.nrc.gov/reactors/new-reactors.html.

DTE's new reactor could create 2,000 to 3,000 temporary construction jobs. Another 600 to 700 workers would be employed permanently at the plant.

Construction costs could rise if the price of concrete, steel, or copper increases.

A new plant, under the speediest scenario possible, would not go online until 2018.

Such facilities are expected to take six years to build following the four-year review


DTE was motivated to file before Dec. 31 so it could become eligible for $300 million to $400 million in tax credits under President Bush's plan for jump-starting the stalled nuclear industry with $6 billion of incentives under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. DTE has to break ground by 2013 to remain eligible for the tax breaks.

Fermi 2, a boiling-water reactor licensed to operate through 2025, generates 1,130 megawatts.

Fermi 1 was an experimental reactor that was shut down in 1972.

Contact Tom Henry at: thenry@theblade.com or 419-724-6079.

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