A reactor design that first went before U.S. regulators in the late 1980s may gain final approval next week.The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Wednesday it will publish its decision regarding General Electric’s amended Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design on Nov. 1. The agency granted the ABWR design certification in 1997. But the current decision involves an amended design incorporating enhanced requirements for aircraft impact resistance that have also delayed final approval of other advanced reactor designs like GE-Hitachi’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor and the Westinghouse AP1000.Several ABWRs are operating or under construction in Japan, and two are under construction in Taiwan. In the U.S., a consortium led by NRG Energy and Toshiba planned to build two ABWRs at the South Texas Project plant near Houston. But NRG announced in April it would write off its $481 million investment in the venture, and federal law prevents Toshiba from building the reactors without a U.S. partner. Nonetheless, the combined license application for the reactors remains open, and Toshiba continued to pursue the ABWR design certification.
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