NRC seeks comment on AP1000 reactor design amendment for use in the U.S.

Source: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking comments on a proposed rule that would amend Westinghouse’s certified AP1000 reactor design for use in the United States.

The design certification process provides for early public participation and resolution of safety issues for proposed reactor designs. NRC certification, in the form of a final rule, means the design meets the agency’s applicable safety requirements. If an applicant for a nuclear power plant license references a certified design, the applicant need not submit safety information for the design. Instead, the license application and the NRC’s safety review would address the remaining safety issues specific to the proposed nuclear power plant.

The design to be certified is fully described in a “design control document,” which would be approved (incorporated by reference) in the design certification rule. The NRC has also prepared an environmental assessment of the design to support the rulemaking. The environmental assessment discusses possible design alternatives that could be included in the design certification to mitigate potential severe accidents. The NRC invites public comments on the design control document and environmental assessment as part of this rulemaking. These documents are available through the Federal e-Rulemaking website at by searching under Docket ID NRC-2010-0131.

Westinghouse submitted an application for certification of the original AP1000 standard plant design on March 28, 2002; the NRC issued a rule certifying that design on Jan. 27, 2006. Westinghouse submitted an application to amend the AP1000 on May 27, 2007. 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 human intervention.

The NRC conducted an extensive technical evaluation of the design and issued a final safety evaluation report (FSER) in December 2010. The FSER provides the basis for the design certification now being considered for addition to NRC’s regulations at 10 CFR Part 52. The FSER is available through by searching under Docket ID NRC-2010-0131.

The NRC is currently reviewing six Combined License applications that reference the amended AP1000 design. The NRC has certified three other standard reactor designs: the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, System 80+, and AP600; the agency is currently reviewing applications to certify the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, the U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor and the EPR pressurized-water reactor.

Comments may be submitted for 75 days following publication of a Federal Register notice, expected shortly. Comments may be submitted via under Docket ID NRC-2010-0131; by e-mail to; by mail to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff; or by fax to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at 301-492-3466.

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