GE slated for beyond 60
Plans to extend two GE boiling water reactors (BWR) operating licenses beyond 60 years.
Construction of a Westinghouse AP1000 reactor in Georgia passed a milestone.
Such was the juxtaposition of old and new in last week’s nuclear news.
Exelon said it plans to file with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seeking an additional 20-year operating license for Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, co-owned Public Service Enterprise Group.
Georgia Power said the last of four 375,000-pound reactor coolant pumps for Vogtle Unit 3 near Waynesboro, Georgia arrived via truck from Curtiss-Wright Corporation in Cheswick, Pennsylvania. Work on the pressurized water reactor is the most advanced of four under construction in the U.S. southeast.
Last month Westinghouse said the world’s first AP1000 moved a step closer to commissioning with the completion of the cold hydrostatic test at Sanmen Unit 1 in Zhejiang Province, China. Completion of the test is a key step for the first of four AP1000s under construction in China “and puts us in a great position to load fuel – a significant milestone we expect to complete at Sanmen 1 by year end,” the Toshiba subsidiary says.
Brunswick Nuclear Plant at sunrise. The power plant on Southport's north side operates Duke Energy's two BWRs. Like Peach Bottom's, they started operating in 1974. Photo by K. Williams
Exelon’s announcement it will notify the NRC in a few weeks of its intent to file the formal application in 2018 came a week after the Chicago-based utility holding company said it will close three BWRs in Illinois starting next year because of the sustained low wholesale power prices, capacity auction results, regulatory uncertainty and questions regarding the future of the EPA's Clean Power Plan. Exelon will close the Clinton nuclear plant on June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities plant in 2018 -- several years before the plants' NRC licenses run out.
It expects an NRC decision on the Peach Bottom extensions by 2020 or 2021, noting approval will allow the York County, Pennsylvania plant to operate until 2053 and 2054.
The NRC licenses new commercial nuclear power plants to operate for 40 years, and the licenses can be renewed for up to 20 years at a time, the NRC’S Albert Wong explained in a year-end blog.
“As industry looks to operate some plants beyond 60 years, we’re getting ready to assess the particular challenges to keeping the plants safe,” the Division of License Renewal, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation official explained.
In December, the NRC published two draft documents intended to guide the staff’s review of what the commission calls “subsequent license renewal” applications – renewals that would allow nuclear power plants to operate beyond 60 years.
“We’ll use public comments we receive on these to develop final guidance as we prepare to receive the first ‘SLR’ application,” Wong said, noting The final documents should be published by mid-2017.
By year end, he pointed out, the agency has renewed the licenses of 81 reactors for the first time (two of which have since permanently shut down).
Last November Dominion Virginia Power became the first to notify the NRC it intends to file a second license renewal application for Surry Power Station. Located in Surry County Virginia -- across the James River from Williamsburg -- its two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors (PWR) began commercial service in 1972 and 1973.
-- Jim Brumm