Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nuclear units can operate beyond 60 years, with R&D: DOE official

From Platts:

No reason has yet been discovered why light-water power reactors could not operate beyond 60 years, but coordinated, near-term research efforts should address the issues, industry and government officials said Tuesday. Co-sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Energy Institute, the three-day workshop in Washington examined "life beyond 60" issues for power reactors. The event followed on a DOE-NRC workshop held in February 2008. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko told the workshop that "it's very important that we guard against any potential sense of complacency about aging management and license renewal." Some 61 of the 104 operating US power reactors have had their initial 40-year licenses renewed by NRC for an additional 20 years. Jaczko said "the industry has done good work in developing effective aging management programs to meet NRC safety requirements. This is a track record that the industry can be proud of. But it's also important to recognize that we have very limited experience in seeing how aging management programs actually work after the initial 40-year period of operation." Jaczko also said that "if the industry's research demonstrates that licensees can safely conduct extended operation beyond 60 years, the NRC has every reason to believe that the licensing reviews will proceed efficiently and effectively."

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