ESBWR approaches design certification

10 March 2011

Although not yet fully certifying the design, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has found GE-Hitachi's (GEH's) Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR) to be safe and technically acceptable. After five years of consideration as to whether to certify the design, the NRC has issued a final safety evaluation report and final design approval for the reactor. Michael Johnson, director of the NRC's office of new reactors, said: "If the commission agrees with the staff, we'll move on to fully certifying the design, incorporating it into our regulations using a rule-making process that includes a public comment period." Full certification is valid for 15 years and allows a utility to reference the design in a combined construction and operation licence (COL) application. The NRC is currently reviewing DTE Energy's COL application for its Fermi unit 3 project, which serves as the reference application for the ESBWR. In a statement, GEH said that it expects to receive the NRC's final design certification in late 2011.