Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) has submitted its US Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (US-APWR) for design certification by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
MHI submitted the application at a ceremony at the NRC's offices in Rockville, Maryland, on 2 January. The NRC will now review the documentation, and, if it seems complete, accept it and begin a thorough review. The result would be design certification, which would approve the design's safety independent of any specific site or plan to build. This is a necessary step before any US-APWR plant could be built.
Mitsubishi met with NRC staff in July 2006 to discuss its intent to apply for design certification for the US-specific version of its APWR, an evolutionary design being licensed and built in Japan. The US version of the reactor will have a capacity of 1700 MWe, compared with 1538 MWe for the Japanese version, two of which are planned at Japan Atomic Power Co's (JAPC's) Tsuruga site in Fukui prefecture.
The submission of the US-APWR design to the NRC now allows companies seeking to construct new nuclear power plants based on the design in the USA to submit their own combined construction and operating licence (COL) applications. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell told Bloomberg that "if an applicant wants to reference the US-APWR, they can technically do it now since we have the design in-house for the staff to look at."
US energy giant Energy Future Holdings, formerly TXU, has selected MHI's US-APWR design for its new build plans. The company is expected to submit an application in 2008 for the construction of two reactors at Comanche Peak in Texas.
Full certification of the US-APWR design by the NRC will take at least three years, according to Burnell. He said, "Staff's schedule stretches into 2011 before we'd reach the end of the process. Depending on how things go, there could be a final design approval prior to 2011."
Mitsubishi is the fourth company to recently seek US approval for a new reactor design. On 11 December 2007, Areva submitted its application for design certification of its US Evolutionary Power Reactor (USEPR) design. GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) submitted an application for design certification for the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) on 24 August 2005. Westinghouse's AP1000 design gained design certification in December 2005.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission : Design Certifications
WNA's US Nuclear Power Industry information paper
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