NRC Safety Committee Signs Off On AP1000 Reactor Design Changes

The Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design has passed one of the final steps toward regulatory approval, the company announced Monday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards has agreed with NRC staff that changes to the reactor’s design allow it to operate without undue risk to public safety, Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse reported in a release.

"Once again, the independent ACRS has concluded that our AP1000 is an extremely robust design capable of withstanding severe events," Westinghouse Electric Company CEO Aris Candris said in the release. "The AP1000 takes safety to an extremely high level, and we are highly confident that the NRC commissioners will expeditiously grant design certification amendment."

In August the NRC issued a positive Final Safety Evaluation Report for changes to the AP1000 Design Control Document. The changes were put in place after the design was initially approved in 2006, and they include upgrades like better aircraft impact resistance for the shield building. Earlier this month, the NRC rejected efforts by environmental groups and the Massachusetts attorney general that would suspend regulatory approvals for U.S. nuclear power projects, including the AP1000 design.

Licenses for six new units at American nuclear plants, including V.C. Summer and Vogtle, depend on design approval of the 1,117 megawatt pressurized water reactor design.

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