The AP1000 is certified – Where do we go from here?

The NRC’s five Commissioners have approved a rule that certifies the amended AP1000 reactor design for use in the Unites States.

The Commissioners took this final step in the certification process after four years of review by the NRC’s technical staff. The staff carefully examined information from the reactor’s designer, Westinghouse, and asked thousands of additional questions to ensure the company appropriately resolved all the issues necessary to show the design is safe. The amended design includes changes to some reactor systems and it shows the AP1000 can keep the public safe even after the impact of a large commercial aircraft.

The new rule means the AP1000 is generally acceptable for use by companies interested in building and operating new U.S. nuclear power plants. Companies still have to show, however, that the reactor can be safely built and operated on a given piece of land in an environmentally acceptable way. The NRC’s Combined License process answers those site-specific questions.

Several companies submitted Combined License applications for the AP1000 while the design was still under review – NRC regulations allow this because certification must be complete before any decisions are reached on the licenses.

The NRC is now ready to complete the Combined License process for the first two AP1000 applications, one for the Vogtle site in Georgia and one for the Summer site in South Carolina. The Commission is now deciding if the applications and the NRC staff’s review meet the requirements of the Atomic Energy Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

If the Commission concludes all the requirements are met, the NRC will be able to issue licenses for the Vogtle and Summer projects. These decisions are expected early next year.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer