Initial phase of ACR-1000 review complete

23 February 2009

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has completed phase one of a pre-project design review of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd's (AECL's) Advanced Candu Reactor (ACR-1000).

ACR-1000 (AECL)
How a twin ACR-1000 plant could look (Image: AECL)
A pre-project review is an optional service provided by the CNSC when requested by a vendor. This service does not involve the issuance of a licence and is not part of the licensing process but does provide early feedback on the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design based on Canadian regulatory requirements and expectations. The CNSC will require a far more detailed review of the design and safety case for a specific application and a specific site.
AECL asked the CNSC in April 2008 to perform a pre-project design review of its ACR-1000 design, which is largely based on the design concepts and the reactor and process system designs of current Candu reactors.
Phase 1 of the pre-project design review consists of an overall assessment of the information submitted in support of the ACR-1000 design against CNSC regulatory requirements and regulatory documents. Supporting documents submitted by AECL included the ACR-1000 Technical Description, the ACR-1000 Generic Safety Case Report and the Safety Design Guides.
The CNSC concluded that the design intent of the ACR-1000 is compliant with CNSC requirements and meets the CNSC's expectations for the design of new nuclear power plants in Canada. It also said that no issues had been identified that would lead to significant design changes.
Hugh MacDiarmid, AECL president and CEO, said: "The CNSC has determined in this preliminary stage of their review that the ACR-1000 is a robust reactor design. We welcome this news as business activity to build new nuclear reactor plants continues to surge around the world, including interest in the Candu design."
He added, "We are confident in the merits of the ACR-1000 as it's built on the fundamentals of our Candu reactor design, including the Candu-6, which has been built on-time and on-budget on four continents in the last 12 years." MacDiarmid noted, "We want to build the first ACR-1000 on Canadian soil, so the Canadian regulator's review process is extremely important to us."
With completion of Phase 1 of the review, the CNSC has begun Phase 2. This will focus on identifying whether there are any potential fundamental barriers to licensing the ACR-1000 design in Canada. Phase 2 of the review is scheduled for completion in August 2009.
The CNSC is also conducting pre-project design reviews of two other reactors: Areva's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000. Both of these reviews are currently in Phase 1. The CNSC is expected to complete Phase 1 of the EPR design review in February 2010, while that of the AP1000 is scheduled to be completed in November 2009.
In early April 2008, AECL announced its decision to defer the participation of its ACR-1000 reactor design in the UK's current design assessment program, saying it wanted to address "major nuclear new build opportunities in the Canadian utility market." At that time, a company spokesman told WNN that it expected UK regulators to be ready to begin more reactor analyses "by early 2011", by which time the results of the pre-licensing review from the CNSC should be available as a reference.