Westinghouse completes fabrication of fuel assemblies for Sanmen 1 nuclear plant

Source: Westinghouse Electric Company

Westinghouse Electric Company has completed fabrication of all 157 fuel assemblies and related components needed to operate the first-ever AP1000® nuclear power plant, Sanmen Unit 1, in Zhejiang province, China.

Completion of fabrication is a major milestone for Westinghouse and its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in Columbia, South Carolina, where the fuel assemblies were completed and delivered to the Sanmen Nuclear Power Company (also in Columbia) for later shipment to China. Sanmen Unit 1 is scheduled to begin generating electricity in 2013.

In commenting on the milestone, Ric Perez, President of Operations for Westinghouse, said: "This operational milestone, which closely follows final approval of the AP1000 design by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the granting of the Combined Construction and Operating License for the Vogtle site in Georgia, again shows that the global nuclear new build effort continues to gain momentum. It also again illustrates that the Westinghouse business model is mutually beneficial, creating or sustaining jobs in locations in which we already have a presence while building infrastructure in the countries and regions where we are providing new plants."

Columbia Plant Manager David Precht said: "Up until now, the Columbia plant has been producing fuel primarily for the first generation of plants around the world, but now we are introducing a new fleet of plants—AP1000 or 'Advanced Passive' plants—that will need fuel until late in the century. We look forward to also providing fuel for the AP1000 plants that will be built in the United States."

The AP1000 reactor, which received amended design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in December 2011, was developed to further improve safety and reduce construction and operating costs. Westinghouse is pursuing production of AP1000 fuel across its global manufacturing facilities.

The "Advanced Passive" safety system is a central feature of the AP1000 design. Plant safety is achieved using basic physical processes rather than only powered safety systems. This approach means it can be safe without the extensive and complex emergency systems needed on other reactors. The design uses natural cooling and gravity-driven systems to keep the reactor safe, even under the extreme conditions of a Fukushima-type event. The design also employs a more cost-efficient modular construction approach. The modules are built at remote factories and assembled together on site, reducing plant construction time. These concepts result in a simpler, more practical and safer design, which is attracting worldwide interest.

Sanmen 1 is the flagship AP1000 plant; seven more are already under construction: one more at Sanmen; two at Haiyang site in Shandong Province, China; two at Southern Nuclear's Vogtle site in Georgia; and two at the SCE&G V.C. Summer site in South Carolina. Additional AP1000 plants are anticipated over the next decade in the United States and around the world.

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