Preparing for Subsequent License Renewal

Albert Wong
Division of License Renewal
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

The NRC’s operating licenses for commercial nuclear power reactors are valid for 40 years and may be renewed for an additional 20 years at a time.  So far the agency has renewed 78 licenses and has applications for another 16 under review. We received the first license renewal application in April 1998, and we’re expecting to receive the last application for a first renewal sometime after 2020.

Today, Dominion Virginia Power announced that it expects to submit a subsequent license renewal application in 2019 – a renewal beyond the 60 years of operation from the first license and the initial renewal — for Surry Power Station.

Subsequent renewal applications will be reviewed under the same regulations (10 CFR Part 54) as the initial renewals. That means they will get similar scrutiny for both safety (focusing on how the plant operators manage the effects of aging on certain plant components) and environmental impacts. There will also be opportunities for public input and hearings.

Of course, operating plants beyond 60 years may raise different technical issues for us to address in these reviews. So we are drawing on our experience with the initial license renewals, plant operating experience, ongoing research, and expert opinions to identify strategies for dealing with the challenges of extending operation to 80 years. Two draft guidance documents will be published in December 2015 for public comment. They are “Generic Aging Lessons Learned for Subsequent License Renewal Report” and the “Standard Review Plan for Review of Subsequent License Renewal Applications for Nuclear Power Plants.”

The final guidance documents – including responses to public comments and explanations of any changes from the drafts – will be published in time to support our review of subsequent license renewal application.

Plant operators applying for subsequent license renewal will need a detailed technical basis, along with associated research and “aging management programs,” to demonstrate how they will keep their plants operating safely during the additional 20 years. The NRC staff will give these applications the same thorough reviews we give initial renewals. We expect the reviews will take about two years, though the quality of the applications could affect the schedule.

The NRC is proactively preparing for anticipated subsequent license renewal applications and stands ready to ensure the continued safety of operating plants once applications are received.



Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

8 thoughts on “Preparing for Subsequent License Renewal”

  1. Utility company attacks can’t stop solar; full off-grid solar + batteries is already cheaper than grid power in Australia and other countries will follow soon. With the plummeting price of solar power and the dropping price of batteries, nearly everything else is about to become obsolete.

    Hopefully the NRC will start actually regulating nuclear plants for safety once it is understood that they are commercially obsolete. We can hope.

  2. “hat means they will get similar scrutiny for both safety (focusing on how the plant operators manage the effects of aging on certain plant components) and environmental impacts. There will also be opportunities for public input and hearings.”

    In other words, you will absolutely ignore all issues of aging plant conditions, pay no attention to safety, ignore all public input, and rubberstamp every single application? *Because that’s what you did with the 60-year renewals*.

    Many of the plants given renewals were closed anyway, at which point it was discovered that there were lots of aging component problems not previously identified, which have to be addressed during decommissioning.

    It would be correct to make a presumption that no plant shall have its license renewed to 80 years without a complete shutdown, dismantling, examination of all components, redesign to the most recent safety standards, and reconstruction.

    There is no other way to determine whether components which have been irradiated for 60 years are still structurally intact; we know that long-term radiation exposure causes structural damage to many metals and concretes, but we have very few examples of materials subjected to 60 years of such stress, and as a result we really don’t know how much damage is done without dismantling and materials testing.

  3. Yet another comment post here:

    This is a PR move to build BUZZ about “extending the life span of old reactors!

    Since each reactor is a 30 to 40 year income stream for its owners and their shareholders BEFORE they get yet access to another 20 to 40+ years of decommissioning funds, the electricity from these reactors will be too expensive to use as compared with the ever lower prices of Renewable Energy that are dropping almost monthly.

    Lets talk money ( Factual comment from the internet):

    The powers that be have learned that the way to transfer the most wealth to themselves is to create bubbles, then blow them up, bankrupting others, and then buy things up on the cheap. Exactly the plan in the housing bubble of 2005 et al.

    Now turn your thoughts to Solar PV. It is a serious threat, enough of a threat that the nuclear industry is spending $1.4B to spread propaganda, influence law makers and regulators to destroy the solar industry.

    So next year, 2016, there will be a rash of laws, restrictions on net energy metering agreements that let homeowners and businesses tie in to the grid, and utility rate structures that discourage solar. This will bankrupt 80% of solar related companies and injure the rest.

    Then nuclear and oil companies will buy up the remnants on the cheap, and then they will spend billions to promote “safe, large scale, solar farms owned by them”, and rape the public with continued high energy costs, whilst hardly pacifying the continued slave class by telling them “good work now you guys are green”.

    Lets talk health:

  4. WOW, license renewal round 2: Watch out, notwithstanding 78 of already granted and watching current holders working their way barely into round 1 of the renewal period. We are talking of 80 Years of operating life, i.e. double the original design life. Common sense tells that aging units will tread into time-limited aging domains and into limiting endurance zones, reconciled with the reality of irreplaceable/inaccessible core hardware. Au contraire utilities, in putting the best business foot forward to the stakeholders, are attempting to rake in renewal guarantees 20 plus years ahead of the need. In hind sight, these round 2 renewals rightfully ought to have been on a “Prove as you Go basis.” So a broad brush “ongoing research, and expert opinions (hopefully)” alone is not going to be sufficient; rather, integrated surveillance program based on real field data specific to nuclear units will be mandated, rigorously applied into calculations and safety reviews completed hence.
    This is not business as usual, but Unusual folks!!

  5. I see this as a Promotional Nuclear gesture since 2019 is a long way off and literally anything can happen between now and then. The nuclear Industry is now spending over a billion dollars on PR to try and make itself look better, so why not wave the ☢ flag and proclaim that the life of yet another aging reactor will be extended, along with the decommissioning fees and everything else the ratepayers will have to also foot the bill for.

    I challenge the NRC to list all the items that will also be required to be “updated” that ratepayers will get billed for. Without that info, how can anyone determine what the most cost effective decision, since Dominion Virginia Power is primarily focused on their bottom line and keeping as many of their ratepayers as they can.

  6. I think the NRC is headed in the wong direction. We instead need a “clunker junker” program for these aging unsafe nuclear power plants!

  7. License renewal, including subsequent license renewal, does not address digital instrumentation and control (I&C) issues. So no, plants would not be required to convert to digital as part of renewing their license. Digital I&C issues are being addressed separately ( If a licensee wants to switch to digital I&C, it would need to apply for a license amendment, but this would not be part of the license renewal review.

    Albert Wong

  8. Given the obsolescence issues surrounding analog/relay/solid state technologies, will renewing a license for an additional twenty years force those plants to install digital controls and safety systems by default? If so, how will the NRC be able to review license amendments, audit designs and plans, project management, installation and testing in a timely manner for some 90 plants?

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