American safety regulators have approved a longer period of operation for the Hope Creek nuclear power plant as well as the start of a new uranium mine.
The Hope Creek nuclear power plant may now operate until April 2046, subject to a strict regime of safety checks as well as the commercial imperatives of its owner, PSEG.
The plant began operation in 1986 on the basis of a nominal 40 year licence, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said it was satisfied PSEG had "effectively demonstrated the capability to manage the effects of plant ageing" and there were "no safety concerns that would preclude licence renewal." The reactor produces 1031 MWe.
Another nuclear utility, DTE Energy, yesterday announced it would apply for the same kind of extension for its Fermi 2 plant. This started in 1985 and currently holds a licence to generate 1215 MWe until 2025. DTE has notified the NRC that it plans to submit an application in 2014 to extend that by 20 years, using the intervening time to prepare by evaluating environmental impact as well as plant systems and structures.
Also yesterday, Uranerz Energy received a positive decision from the NRC regarding its proposed Nichols Ranch uranium mine, which is now licensed for construction and operation. It could produce up to 770 tonnes of uranium per year.
The development is to use the in-situ leach method to extract uranium oxide from the ground with minimal earth-moving. It is located near Pumpkin Buttes in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.
Uranerz has NI 43-101 compliant resources of 6060 tonnes of uranium at grades of 0.1% uranium in seven deposits within about 30 kilometres of Nichols Ranch.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News