Areva Inc. has asked the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to suspend work on the design certification of the US EPR until further notice. The action led Unistar Nuclear Energy to request the suspension of the review of its construction and operation licence (COL) application for the proposed 1,600 megawatt (MW) Calvert Cliffs 3 nuclear power plant in Maryland. The news was reported by media outlets, including World Nuclear News.

Areva reportedly has not set an end date for the suspension. A spokesperson was quoted as saying that the action does not signal a withdrawal of Areva's commitment to build new nuclear plants in the U.S. Announcing Areva's group financial results in early March, CEO Philippe Knoche said that the company planned to emphasise growth in China, which he described as the "new frontier" of global nuclear power.

In late February, EDF-owned Unistar Nuclear Energy wrote to the NRC to request the suspension of review activities for its COL application for Calvert Cliffs 3. As the Calvert Cliffs 3 COL application references the US EPR design certification, the NRC would be unable to approve or issue it before the reactor design certification is approved and issued.

Unistar Nuclear Energy was founded by EDF and electric power utility Constellation Energy in 2007. The company submitted its initial COL application for Calvert Cliffs 3 to the NRC in July 2007.

The US EPR is based on the EPR pressurized water reactor currently under construction in France and Finland and planned for construction at Hinkley Point C in the UK. The reactor had been earmarked for construction at several U.S. sites, but all COL applications referencing it have now been withdrawn or are suspended. Unistar withdrew an application for a planned US EPR at Nine Mile Point in New York in 2013. AmerenUE suspended an application for Callaway 2 in Missouri in 2009. PPL's COL application for Bell Bend in Pennsylvania was suspended in 2014.

Areva Inc.'s request to the NRC was made days before French parent company Areva announced losses for 2014 of €4.83 billion ($5.38 billion). The company is to embark on a three-year financing plan to achieve savings of around €1 billion ($1.1 billion). Areva Inc spokesman Curtis Roberts confirmed to World Nuclear News that the suspension of the design certification project was one outcome of the review underpinning the company's global transformation plan.

To contact the author of this article, email