Those who continue to agree with The Economist (March 10, 2012) that nuclear power is the dream that failed may think again.
The US NRC(Nuclear Regulatory Commission) has today voted 4-1 to issue combined licences to the South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper to erect and operate two AP1000 reactors at the Summer site in South Carolina. NRC staff will issue the licence in 10 business days.
“The Commission’s findings impose two conditions on the COLs, with the first requiring inspection and testing of squib valves, important components of the new reactors’ passive cooling system. The second requires the development of strategies to respond to extreme natural events resulting in the loss of power at the new reactors”. said a press release from USNRC .
The Commission also directed the NRC staff to issue to SCE&G and Santee Cooper, simultaneously with the COLs, an Order requiring enhanced, reliable spent fuel pool instrumentation, as well as a request for information related to emergency plant staffing. The conditions reveals the concerns of NRC post Fukushima..
The licences will authorize SCE&G and Santee Cooper to build and operate two AP1000 reactors at the Summer site, adjacent to the company’s existing reactor approximately 26 miles northwest of Columbia, S.C. “An NRC construction inspector has been on-site since October 2011, examining SCE&G’s activities to prepare the site” the NRC release added
SCE&G and Santee Cooper applied for the licence exactly three years ago on March 27, 2008.
The Commission certified Westinghouse’s amended AP1000 design on Dec. 30, 2011. The AP1000 is a 1,100 megawatt electric pressurized-water reactor that includes passive safety features that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for electricity or human intervention.
On February 9, 2012 NRC issued Combined Licenses to two 1100 MW Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors to the the Southern Nuclear Operating Company to be built at the company’s Vogtle site, in Waynesboro, Ga. This was the first licence for a new reactor issued by US NRC since 1978.
In both instances NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko voted against the decision.
Based on a report in The Augusta Chronicle, ansnuclearsafe.org, a pronuclear website quoted a spokesperson of the utility saying that about 1000 workers are already working at the South Carolina project for early site preparation.Preconstruction work includes clearing and excavating land, building infrastructure such as roads and bridges, and constructing support buildings such as offices and warehouses..Construction is expected to take about five years per unit.