The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has announced its readiness to issue a certificate confirming that South Korea’s APR-1400 is suitable for construction in the USA and meets all required safety standards.
Korea Electric Power Corporation and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power submitted the reactor design to NRC in September 2013, and in December 2014 presented an improved version. In March 2015, the NRC stated that the documents submitted met the formal requirements to begin project certification.
The purpose of the NRC's certification procedure is to determine whether the reactor design complies with US safety requirements, regardless of any particular site or construction plan. NRC’s decision will enter into force 120 days after its publication in the Federal Register of Legal Acts.
“Full certification allows a utility to reference the design when applying for a combined licence to build and operate a nuclear power plant,” according to NRC. The US regulator has certified five other designs: General Electric’s (Ge’s) Advanced Boiling Water Reactor; Westinghouse’s System 80+, AP600 and AP1000; and GE’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). NRC staff are also reviewing applications for the NuScale small modular reactor and the US advanced pressurised water reactor developed by Mitsubishi.
The APR-1400 is an evolutionary pressurised water reactor based on the CE System 80+ model and was designed by Korea Engineering Company. It supercedes the standardised 995 MWe OPR-1400 reactor, 12 of which have been built in South Korea.
Design certification was awarded by the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety in May 2003 and construction of the first two APR-1400s (units 3&4 at Shin Kori) began in 2008 and 2009. Shin-Kori 3, which was originally scheduled to enter commercial operation at the end of entered commercial operation in December 2016. Shin-Kori 4 was connected to the grid on 22 April. Two further APR-1400s are being built at Shin Kori (units 5 and 6) and are scheduled to begin commercial operation in 2022 and 2023. Two APR-1400 units are also under construction at Shin Hanul 1&2, and outside South Korea four APR-1400s are under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates.