NRC Approval of Reactor Design Clears Path for New Nuclear Plants

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission unanimously approved a radical new reactor design on Thursday, clearing away a major obstacle for two utilities to begin construction on projects in South Carolina and Georgia.

The decision, a milestone in the much-delayed revival of plant construction sought by the nuclear industry, involves the Westinghouse AP1000, a 1,154-megawatt reactor with a so-called advanced passive design. It relies more heavily on forces like gravity and natural heat convection and less on pumps, valves and operator actions than other models do, in theory diminishing the probability of an accident.

Two reactors are planned for the Southern Company’s plant near Augusta, Ga., and another two at the Summer plant of South Carolina Electric and Gas in Fairfield County, S.C.

In an unusual step, the commission waived the usual 30-day waiting period before its approval becomes official, so its decision will be effective in about a week. That moves the utilities closer to the point where they can start pouring concrete for safety-related parts of the plant."

Matthew L. Wald reports for the New York Times December 22, 2011.

SEE ALSO:

"Regulators Approve Nuclear Reactor Design for Southeast Utilities" (McClatchy)

"On Our Radar: India’s Growing Nuclear Sector" (Green/NYT)

"U.S. Clears Another Hurdle Toward Nuclear Renaissance" (Reuters)

"Markey Blasts Vote to Override NRC's Jaczko, Allow Acceleration of AP1000 Nuke Reactor" (Markey Release/Power Engineering)

"NRC Grants Design Certification To Westinghouse AP1000®" (Westinghouse Release/MarketWatch)

"NRC's Final Approval of Westinghouse AP1000® Design Is Major Milestone for SCE&G's New Nuclear Development" (SCE&G Release/PR Newswire)

"NRC Approves Rule To Certify Amended Ap1000 Reactor Design" (NRC Release)

Friday, December 23, 2011