A federal judge has rejected the Tennessee Valley Authority’s motion to dismiss a breach of contract claim brought by Nuclear Development LLC, which has an agreement to purchase the partially completed two-unit, 1,260-MW Bellefonte nuclear plant in Alabama.

Nuclear Development claims TVA has breached the agreement by refusing to complete the sale of the plant, scheduled for November 2018. TVA says the plant cannot be transferred until the Nuclear Regulatory Commission transfers the construction permit for the two nuclear units to the buyer.

The sale without NRC approval is the crux of the motion to dismiss, said Judge Lisle Burke of the Northern District of Alabama. But there is uncertainty surrounding the law, which he said is not as “crystal clear” as TVA claims. He also noted there is a question as to how a partially finished plant is defined under federal law.

Burke said Nuclear Development had sufficiently made its claim for breach of contract, but also said TVA may be able to demonstrate that selling the plant would violate federal law.

Nuclear Development in November 2018 filed with the NRC to have the permit transferred. NRC needs more documents before it can make a determination on the transfer, Scott Burnell, an NRC spokesman, told ENR.

One unit at the site was about 90% complete, the other 58% complete when construction was stopped in 1988. TVA decided to declare the property surplus and put it up for sale. Nuclear Development was the highest bidder at $111 million.

In a separate action, a donation to President Trump’s inaugural fund by Nuclear Development’s owner, real estate magnate Franklin Haney, is under federal investigation, along with other donations to the fund, to determine whether the donors received any benefits from their gifts. Haney donated $1 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.