Westinghouse Electric Company has submitted the design certification amendment application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its AP1000 Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) design.
Submittal of the amendment application and receiving favorable safety evaluations from the NRC and ACRS are key steps in the rule-making process, which is complete with the granting of Design Certification, expected in late 2011, followed by AP1000 customers being granted a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) from the NRC.
Some safety-related construction has already begun for two AP1000 units at Plant Vogtle in Augusta, Georgia, and some non-safety-related construction is currently underway for two units at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. Westinghouse and its consortium team member Stone & Webster, Inc., a subsidiary of The Shaw Group Inc., are leading construction efforts at both sites. The owners of Vogtle and V.C. Summer have applied for COLs, which, once granted, will allow for full construction of the AP1000 nuclear islands at each site to begin. The first new AP1000 units in the United States, Vogtle Unit 3 and V.C. Summer Unit 2, are scheduled to come online in 2016.
The NRC had granted design certification for the AP1000 design in 2005, but subsequently made changes in its requirements primarily relating to the ability of next-generation plants to withstand airplane crashes. This amended AP1000 design incorporates several key improvements identified by Westinghouse, and addresses the NRC's new requirements relating to aircraft impact. The amended design includes a redesigned AP1000 Shield Building, a massive armored structure made of concrete and steel that protects the containment vessel from external forces, such as tornado-driven objects, earthquakes and aircraft impact. It also acts as a secondary radiation barrier and is the primary structure of the passive containment cooling system, a unique characteristic of the AP1000 design that cools the reactor in the highly unlikely event of an accident.
In addition to the four AP1000 units that the Westinghouse/Shaw Consortium is building in the United States, there are currently four AP1000 units under construction in China with the first unit expected to come online in 2013.
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