HUNTSVILLE, Ala – A trial is currently underway concerning ownership of the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in Jackson County. Monday marks the second day of a bench trial pitting the Tennessee Valley Authority against Chattanooga-based Nuclear Development.
The trial, taking place in Huntsville at the federal courthouse, stems from a year’s long dispute over the failed sale of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant.
Nuclear Development won the auction for the plant November 2016. But two years later in November 2018, TVA did not complete the sale.
Nuclear Development contends that TVA breached the contract by pulling out of the deal to sell the plant. TVA says it couldn’t follow through because the Chattanooga-based company did not obtain the required construction permits from federal regulators.
“TVA’s position is that we acted appropriately in terms of the contract,” said Scott Fiedler, TVA spokesperson.
Nuclear Development has asked the court to order TVA to repay the $22 million it gave the utility as a down payment towards buying the plant.
In the second day of the trial, testimony included the current Bellefonte site manager, James Chartos.
During questioning from Nuclear Development’s attorneys Chartos said he was lead of the transition team preparing for the transfer of ownership of the plant. Chartos explained he worked to transfer TVA’s contracts to Nuclear Development for maintenance and security companies who currently work at Bellefonte. He also said he was not absolutely aware the deal would not go through until the day before closing.
During questioning from TVA, Chartos told the court he sent two emails to Nuclear Development with a timeline of what needed to be completed ahead of closing the sale in late 2016. In the second email he included information about the transfer of the construction permit.
TVA officials told News 19 Monday a sale of the plant is still a possibility. But before any decisions can be made about Bellefonte’s future this case will have to conclude.
A spokesperson for TVA says they expect the trial to continue through Thursday.