Columbia receives 20-year operating licence extension

23 May 2012

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating licence for the Columbia Generating Station for an additional 20 years-extending the operation of the plant through 2043.

In a statement NRC said that the licence renewal, which expires on 20 December 2043, was signed after thorough safety and environmental reviews.

Energy Northwest, owner and operator of Columbia, submitted the 2200-page license renewal application to the NRC in January 2010.

In April 2012, the NRC staff published its Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, concluding there were no environmental impacts to preclude renewal of the licence for environmental reasons.

That same month the regulator issued a Safety Evaluation Report, which deemed that there were no safety concerns that would preclude licence renewal, and that the applicant had effectively demonstrated the capability to manage the effects of plant ageing.

On 24 April 2012, the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards – an independent body of technical experts that advise the Commission – issued its recommendation that license renewal for Columbia should be approved. The new licence was issued on 22 May. Columbia’s is the 72nd reactor licence renewed by the NRC.

As the only nuclear power plant in Washington State, the 1150 MW Columbia boiling water reactor supplies almost a tenth of the state’s electricity.

Commenting on the renewal, Governor for the state of Washington Christine Gregoire said:

“Nuclear power has its place in the current and future production of electrical power for our nation.

“I know that it can provide reliable and affordable baseload power over the very long term. It can produce that power without greenhouse gas emissions. That is why I endorsed the re-licensing of our plant.”

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