Westinghouse Electric Co. President and CEO Steve Tritch says the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s issuance of a draft safety evaluation report (DSER) for the company’s AP1000 nuclear power technology is a major milestone that will further encourage new nuclear power plant construction in the U.S.
“The timely issuance of the DSER for the AP1000 means that this advanced technology will achieve NRC design certification by the time U.S. utilities will be making their decisions about new nuclear construction,” he said. “Given the AP1000’s inherent safety characteristics provided by passive safety systems and its high level of competitiveness with fossil fuel plants, we are optimistic that the nuclear option will be pursued and that the AP1000 will be the new build technology of choice in the U.S. and elsewhere.”
Tritch noted that the DSER was received in a record time of just 15 months from submitting the application and in only 12 months from the time the NRC docketed the application. He attributes the acceptance in part to the similarity of the AP1000 to the smaller Westinghouse AP600, which received design certification in 1999.
The next step in the process is issuance of a final safety evaluation report that will be followed by final design approval and then actual design certification. Westinghouse expects design certification no later than year-end 2005.
The AP1000, like the AP600, features advanced passive safety systems that actually eliminate the need for human intervention in the highly unlikely event of an accident. It also features a modular design that will reduce construction times to as little as 36 months from first concrete pour to the time that fuel is loaded into the core. This shortened construction time greatly reduces capital investment and interest costs, meaning that the AP1000 will be highly competitive with fossil-burning plants.
And, although the AP1000 features highly advanced safety and operational systems, the technology is an evolutionary outgrowth of the Westinghouse pressurized water reactor technology, which accounts for almost one-half of the worldwide nuclear generation capability.