NRC seeks comment on guidance for 80-year reactor lives

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Dec. 17 that it is seeking public comment on two draft documents designed to guide the agency’s staff in reviewing applications to extend operations of commercial nuclear plants beyond 60 years.

The NRC expects to receive the first application for “subsequent license renewal,” or SLR, sometime in 2019. The draft guidance documents, once finalized, will describe methods and techniques acceptable to the NRC staff in reviewing subsequent license renewal applications. Industry will be able to use the documents when preparing their applications.

Dominion (NYSE:D) is the first U.S. nuclear operator to formally notify the NRC that it intends to apply for a second 20-year license renewal for a nuclear power plant.

Subsidiary Dominion Virginia Power plans to seek the second license extension for the dual-unit Surry nuclear plant. Dominion Generation CEO David Christian made the announcement at a November White House symposium on the future of nuclear energy in the United States.

The new documents, Generic Aging Lessons Learned for Subsequent License Renewal (GALL-SLR) Report and the Standard Review Plan for Review of Subsequent License Renewal Applications for Nuclear Power Plants (SRP-SLR), are based on similar documents covering initial license renewals. They will describe aging management programs acceptable to the NRC for operations up to 80 years.

The NRC staff will hold public meetings at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md., on Jan. 21, Jan. 22 and Feb. 23, 2016, to present the guidance, answer questions and receive comments.

The comment period will open upon publication of a Federal Register notice, expected Dec. 22. Comments will be accepted through Feb. 29, 2016.

U.S. commercial nuclear power reactors are initially licensed for 40 years of operation, and the licenses can be renewed for periods of 20 years. To date, the NRC has renewed the licenses of 81 reactors to operate for up to 60 years (two of those reactors have since permanently shut down).

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.