NRC finds no technical reason to block license extensions for Byron, Braidwood

The staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a report that concluded there are no technical issues to preclude license renewal for an additional 20 years of operation for the Exelon (NYSE:EXC) Byron and Braidwood nuclear plants in Illinois.

Byron’s two pressurized-water reactors (PWRs) are located about 17 miles southwest of Rockford, Ill. Braidwood’s two PWRs are located roughly 20 miles southwest of Joliet, Ill.

Byron has a total combined generating capacity of more than 2,200 MW. Likewise, the total combined generation capacity of the Braidwood complex is also more than 2,000 MW.

Exelon Generation submitted an application in May 2013 to renew all four reactors’ licenses for an additional 20 years.

If approved, Byron Unit 1’s renewed license would expire Oct. 31, 2044, and Byron Unit 2’s renewed license would expire Nov. 6, 2046. If approved, Braidwood Unit 1’s renewed license would expire Oct. 17, 2046, and Braidwood Unit 2’s renewed license would expire Dec. 18, 2047.

The SER documents the results of the NRC staff’s review of the license renewal application and site audit of Byron’s and Braidwood’s aging-management programs to address the safety of plant operations during the period of extended operation. Overall, the results show that Exelon has identified actions to manage the effects of aging in the appropriate systems, structures and components of the plant, and that their functions will be maintained during the period of extended operation.

Issuing the final SER is a significant milestone in the license renewal review process. This process proceeds along two tracks – one for review of safety issues and another for environmental issues.

The staff published Byron’s draft supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) for public comment in December 2014. The staff published Braidwood’s draft supplemental environmental impact statement for public comment in March 2015.

The final SEIS for both plants are expected to be published later this year.

The SER and the license renewal application have been provided to the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS), an independent body of experts that advises the Commission on reactor safety matters. The committee is scheduled to discuss the SER during its September meeting and then submit its recommendation on license renewal to the NRC.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.