NRC decision could delay Comanche Peak expansion approval

Reuters reported today:

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification of new reactor technology has been delayed by the agency’s evaluation of the earthquake and tsunami damage to Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said on Thursday.

He said the full commission is still expected to act on the final certification of Westinghouse Electric’s AP1000 design by year-end, which would make the certification effective in 2012.

That decision pushed back another new reactor design even further:

NRC consideration of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) has been delayed until next year, Burnell said in a telephone interview.

The NRC staff is in the process of preparing a final rule for both reactors and the AP100 has priority over the ESBWR for the commission’s available resources, he said.

Burnell said the NRC staff would update GE Hitachi soon on the ESBWR’s certification status, which now appears to have been delayed at least six months from “the June to September time frame” seen earlier this year by Danny Roderick, senior vice president of nuclear plant projects at GE Hitachi’s headquarters in Wilmington, North Carolina.

What that means for the expansion of Texas’ Comanche Peak nuclear power plant is unclear. Comanche Peak has applied to construct two Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors (APWR), Mitsubishi’s reactor design that is a competitor to Westinghouse’s AP1000. The Reuters article did not mention the APWR, but the design has not been approved, and it is a reasonable assumption that it is somewhere behind the AP-1000 and the ESWBR in the design approval process.

Here’s a link to the Reuters article: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/13/usa-nuclear-nrc-idUSN1E79C1NF20111013

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About Robert Singleton

By day, I work for a call center. In my spare time, I try to save my hometown (and planet) from a nearly constant onslaught of greedheads, lunatics and land developers. I live in a fictional town called Austin, Texas, where I go to way too many meetings.
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One Response to NRC decision could delay Comanche Peak expansion approval

  1. djysrv says:

    Comanche Peak faces more significant hurdles in terms of getting investors to line up to pay to build it. Luminant’s parent Energy Future Holdings is holding way too much debt to support new investment in twin 1700 MW nuclear reactors. EFH would have to sell Comanche Peak to a new investment consortium to get it built. In any case, demand for electricity in Texas is way down which could push the need for the reactors well into the next decade. A delay of one-to-three years in certifying the Mitsubishi design won’t make the Japanese firm very happy, but even if it were approved tomorrow it might not make much difference.

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