Licence extension for Callaway

09 March 2015

Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant can look forward to an additional 20 years of operation after the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) renewed the pressurized water reactor's operating licence.

Callaway 250 (NRC)
Callaway (Image: NRC)

The regulator's decision is the culmination of a review process that has taken over three years and included the preparation of a safety evaluation report and a supplemental environmental impact statement for the Missouri plant. After completing its environmental and safety reviews, the NRC staff has now concluded that Ameren has met all the requirements for the 1215 MWe unit's licence to be renewed.

As several petitions and motions against Callaway's licence renewal application, notably from the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE), are still pending, the decision by NRC staff also required approval from the five US NRC commissioners. Such approval was granted on 4 March.

The unit's renewed licence will now expire on 18 October 2044, although the NRC notes that should the renewed licence be set aside on appeal, Callaway would revert to its original licence which would expire in 2024.

Under the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, the NRC is allowed to issue licences for nuclear power reactors to operate for up to 40 years. The original 40-year period reflected the amortization of capital rather than the likely lifespan of a reactor, and the NRC is allowed to extend licences for additional 20-year periods provided the reactor is deemed safe to continue operating.

The prospect of a 60-year or longer operating life means that reactor operators can justify and plan for major refurbishment projects, such as replacement of steam generators and upgrading of instrument and control systems.

Callaway is the 76th US nuclear unit to receive a licence renewal, and the NRC is currently in the process of reviewing 18 more renewal applications.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News