"Westinghouse appears to have won an important first round in a battle with critics over the radical design of the containment system for its new AP1000 reactor. A panel of senior safety advisers has told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that with a few additional procedures and analyses, the design should be approved.
The Southern Company hopes to get a license this fall to build two of the units, which are meant to have a far lower chance of meltdown because of 'advanced passive' features. But one of those features, the containment, has become a focus of critics.
Like existing Westinghouse units, the AP1000 uses a steel and concrete shell to protect the reactor and vital related parts from external hazards and to hold in any radioactive material released. But the new design is very different from the old."