Nuclear, Retrofits & Upgrades

NRC: Public Review ready for Peach Bottom Nuclear Extension Request

Exelon Generation’s application to renew licensing for two Pennsylvania nuclear reactor units is now available for public review on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission website, the federal agency announced this week.

This would be the second renewable application in the history of Peach Bottom Units 2 and 3, which were originally placed on-line in 1974. Unit 2 and 3, both GE-Hitachi boiling-water reactors located 18 miles south of Lancaster, are currently licensed to operate through August 8, 2033 and July 2, 2034, respectively, according to the NRC release.

Approval could push those licenses out to 2053 and 2054, making Peach Bottom Units 2 and 3 about 80 years old on those dates. Exelon filed the application for renewal on July 10.

The U.S. is the first nation to consider whether to stretch nuclear power reactor lifespans to 80 years. Dominion Energy has asked for a similar extension to its Surry plant in Virginia.

Together the two Peach Bottom units generate about 2,770 MW of carbon-free electricity—enough to power 2.7 million homes. In 2017, the NRC approved a power update for the units will increase capacity by 1.66 percent or close to 20 MW each, according to reports.

Through the years Peach Bottom has not produced any major, known structural defects leading to federal investigations. Worker misconduct, however, has been cited several times by investigators.

The Peach Bottom facility is co-owned by Chicago-based Exelon and New Jersey-based Public Service Enterprise Group.

On an unrelated note, the NRC this week was looking into the leak of radioactive uranium at the Westinghouse nuclear fuel factor in Richland County, South Carolina. The uranium, which is used to make nuclear fuel roads, apparently leaked through a hole in flooring at the plant, according to reports.

NRC officials said uranium leaked into the soil but so far has not shown up in groundwater.