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Judge to decide lawsuit over Alabama nuclear plant sale

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (AP) — The future of an unfinished nuclear plant in northeast Alabama is now in the hands of a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Liles Burke recently heard closing arguments in the lawsuit over the sale of the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant near Scottsboro, news outlets reported. It is unclear when Burke will issue his ruling but it could take several months.

Nuclear Development LLC in 2018 filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing the Tennessee Valley Authority of illegally pulling out of the sale a day before closing. Nuclear Development had agreed to buy the site for $111 million.

Nuclear Development argued that TVA actually blocked the sale at the last minute because of concerns that Nuclear Development could finish Bellefonte and deliver power at a lower cost.

Lawyers for the company wrote in a court filing that a TVA official, “made the decision to pull the plug at the last minute after it became real to him that Memphis, TVA’s largest customer, might be lost if TVA sold Bellefonte to ND.”

The utility has argued it couldn’t complete the transaction because Nuclear Development failed to get the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval for transfer of the construction permits.

“Who is at fault for the NRC being unable to make a decision on ND’s permit transfer application by that closing date? The blame rests entirely with ND,” lawyers for TVA wrote in a summary of the utility’s arguments.

TVA began work at the Bellefonte site in the mid-1970s, but it never finished the two-reactor plant as growth in the demand for electricity waned.

TVA is the nation’s largest public utility and provides electricity to millions of people in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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