The pre-project design review of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd's (AECL's) advanced version of its Candu pressurized heavy-water reactor - the ACR-1000 - has found no fundamental barriers to licensing the reactor design in Canada.
|How a twin ACR-1000 plant could look (Image: AECL)
A vendor pre-project design review is a high-level assessment of a vendor’s reactor technology. It is an optional service provided by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) when requested by a vendor. This service does not involve the issuance of a licence and is not part of the licensing process.
The three-phase review is solely intended to provide early feedback on the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design, based on Canadian regulatory requirements and expectations.
AECL requested in April 2008 that the CNSC perform a pre-project design review of the ACR-1000 design. The CNSC completed Phases 1 and 2 of the review in December 2008 and August 2009, respectively. AECL subsequently requested the CNSC extend the review to Phase 3 in order to follow up on some specific technical aspects.
CNSC staff assessed specific safety and security aspects of the ACR-1000 design to identify any potential technical issues that could constitute a potential fundamental barrier to licensing a new reactor design in Canada. The regulator will require a much more detailed review of the design and safety case for a specific application and a specific site.
The CNSC has now completed the third and final phase of the review. The 1200 MWe pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) design has become the first advanced nuclear power reactor to have completed all three phases of pre-project design review by the CNSC.
For the Phase 3 review, the vendor chooses to follow up on specific aspects of the Phase 2 review findings by asking the CNSC to review activities it has taken towards readiness of the reactor design for licensing. AECL requested that the CNSC review in more detail specific aspects of some of the previous topics considered for the Phase 2 review. The CNSC staff also assessed the progress that AECL is making towards the completion of these activities. "Such a review," the CNSC said, "will increase the efficiency of a regulatory review during an assessment of a construction licence application."
In its review, the CNSC concluded that AECL had provided sufficient design and analysis information for the review. It said that the company is "progressing satisfactorily towards completing of a number of activities to resolve questions arising from CNSC's Phase 2 review." In addition, the CNSC concluded that specific items on the topics covered in Phase 3 "will be satisfactorily addressed within a reasonable timeframe."
The CNSC is also conducting pre-project design reviews of three other reactors: AECL's Enhanced Candu 6 (EC6), Areva's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000. Phase 1 of the design reviews for the EC6 and AP1000 have already been completed, while that for the EPR is on hold at Areva’s request. The EC6 review is now in Phase 2.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News