In April 2014, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled that Toshiba America Nuclear Energy's (TANE) investment in a company seeking a license to build two new nuclear power reactors in Texas was permissible under foreign ownership restrictions of the Atomic Energy Act.
The NRC is reviewing an application for the new reactors at the South Texas Project near Bay City, Texas. In 2012, the NRC staff issued a determination that Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA), a company owned in part by TANE, a U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba Corporation, but majority owned by NRG Energy, was ineligible for an NRC license due to Toshiba’s participation.
In a comprehensive decision, the Licensing Board reviewed all the facts and concluded that NINA's corporate governance and robust negation measures put in place to make sure NINA is not and cannot be controlled by Toshiba, through TANE, were effective, and therefore Toshiba’s investment does not run afoul of the Atomic Energy Act’s restriction on foreign ownership.
The NRC Board's decision provides clarity on how to interpret the foreign ownership and control restrictions in the Atomic Energy Act, which will aid other foreign companies looking to invest in U.S. nuclear projects.
The NRC's review of the license application is nearing an end, with only a few issues outstanding. This project could be the NRC's first license for a new "merchant" nuclear power plant. The proposed reactors will use Toshiba’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design.