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Environmentalists file legal objection to Callaway nuclear renewal

Updated 2:15 p.m. with link to full legal document.

A St. Louis-based environmental group is asking the federal government to more closely scrutinize Ameren Corp.'s request for a 20-year license renewal at Missouri's only nuclear power plant.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment has filed a legal objection to the utility's plan with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Ameren's current 40-year operating license for the Callaway County plant expires in 2024.

Coalition attorney Diane Curran says the objection focuses on Ameren’s consideration of energy alternatives and whether Callaway is prepared for the kind of earthquake that struck Fukushima, Japan, one year ago.

"If Ameren should determine that the earthquake risks for Callaway are significantly greater than was currently thought, it could require upgrades so expensive that it makes more sense to pursue some other energy alternative than license renewal for Callaway," Curran said.

Ameren's current 40-year operating license for the Callaway plant expires in 2024. 

The application and protest are not related to Ameren's recently announced plansto team up with Westinghouse Electric Co.to build five smaller, "modular" nuclear reactors. The companies are seeking more than $450 million in federal support for the project.

The utility has not responded to requests for comment on the coalition’s renewal objections.