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Company failed to disclose information with license transfer applications


Staff writer

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a notice of violation to Constellation Energy Nuclear Group on Nov. 1 for failing to provide information regarding the transfer of control of CENG’s licenses.

The violation notice states that Constellation failed to provide complete and accurate information to the NRC associated with changes to its January 2009 operating license transfer applications related to foreign ownership, control or domination.

An investigation by NRC’s Office of Investigations concluded that “Constellation did not willfully fail to provide accurate or complete information,” NRC spokesman Niel Sheehan said in an email Nov. 7.

CENG spokeswoman Cindy Angus said Thursday that Constellation has taken measure to prevent this in the future.

“We've put in processes as noted by NRC in the transmittal letter to ensure clearer communications between us and NRC during regulatory proceedings in order to avoid future misunderstandings,” she said.

She also added that even though this is the lowest violation level, “[CENG] takes all violations seriously.”

The investigation began after CENG originally requested the transfers January 22, 2009, and supplemented the application in April 2009, the email states.

The transfers were requested to facilitate an investment in Constellation from Electricite de France, in which EDF would acquire 49.99 percent of the company.

In October 2009, NRC approved the request, but shortly after, CENG requested the NRC issue modifying orders clarifying the phased license transfers. On Oct. 30, 2009, the NRC issued the new orders and discovered CENG had submitted this additional information to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Marland Public Service Commission in May 2009. It was this failure to provide the NRC with the information before the initial orders were issued that prompted the investigation.

In a letter from the NRC to CENG, the NRC states that the issue “was viewed as potentially significant because it impacted the NRC’s ability to perform its regulatory function related to foreign ownership, control or domination.”

However, the letter continues that “after a detailed review of all available information,” the NRC has classified the violation as Severity Level IV, which is of very low significance. The severity level is based on the determination that there were no actual safety consequences and that the potential safety consequences were minimal, according to Sheehan’s email.

Sheehan clarified in the email, though, that “The NRC does not have any current concerns with respect to foreign ownership, control or domination at any of the Constellation sites.”

The letter concludes, “Although insufficient evidence exists to warrant further enforcement action in these areas, the problems caused by Constellation’s self-acknowledged inadequate coordination and communication, were avoidable.”