NRC Issues Final Safety Report for Fermi Unit 3

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the third reactor (Unit 3) at the Enrico Fermi NPP in Newport, Mi. had passed its latest test. The federal agency said it had completed the Final Safety Evaluation Report for the combined construction and operating (COL) license for Detroit Edison's proposed $10 billion project.

The report concluded there were no safety concerns that “preclude issuing the (COL) license” for the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Economic Simplified Boiling-Water reactor or ESBWR, slated for the Lake Erie shoreline as a neighbor to the operational Fermi 2 unit, a light-water GE reactor licensed since 1985.

Using passive water systems, designed to protect the plant without human help – hands off interventions – the ESBWR design calls for 25 percent less infrastructure than other water-cooled reactors.

The NRC said the safety report and the Final Environmental Impact Statement, completed in January 2013, would be available during the mandatory hearing phase of the licensing process, which is scheduled for early 2015. The original application for the 1,600 megawatt ESBWR was submitted in August 2005.

Detroit Edison submitted its COL application for the third unit on site on Sept. 18, 2008.

A draft certification was completed March 2011 and has undergone one major revision, an updated steam dryer design intended to prevent moisture from damaging the reactor's electricity-producing turbine.

Applications for the plant have weathered the public's reaction to the March 2011 earthquake that lead to the industry-shaking disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in Japan.

A few steps behind in the regulatory process, Dominion Virginia Power is pursuing permission to construct and operate an ESBWR in Louisa County, Va. That would be a supplement to North Anna Units 1 and 2. These are pressurized-water reactors, operational since 1978 and 1980, respectively.

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