Nuclear industry faces regulatory setback

The nuclear industry was dealt a major blow Friday when its top federal regulatory agency announced it was delaying the approval of the most-popular reactor design pending before the agency.

The design is included in six out of a total of 13 pending applications at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission right now. The application for the design, known as AP1000, was submitted in 2007 by nuclear equipment and design company Westinghouse. If the six applications are approved, 12 reactors could get built with the AP1000 design. In total, 21 reactors are pending before the agency.

NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko said in a statement that in reviewing the design, the agency uncovered "additional technical issues."

"Westinghouse must resolve the issues before we can consider finalizing NRC certification of the design." Jaczko said. He did not say how long of a delay this would create. "The agency will determine what impact this effort may have on the schedule for the AP1000 design amendment and related license application reviews."

Jaczko said the agency now as more questions about the reactor design's shield building and the "peak accident pressures expected within containment."

The announcement Friday afternoon carries with it symbolic and regulatory repercussions for an industry that hasn't seen an American reactor built in more than 30 years. The delay exacerbates the regulatory bottleneck the NRC has faced ever since it reformed its approval process following the partial core meltdown at a nuclear plant at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.

On top of regulatory issues, nuclear power companies face significant steep upfront capital costs to build a reactor. And in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis, the American nuclear industry must also reassure the public and the government that it operates in a safe manner. Jaczko underscored that in his statement.

"The NRC will always place its commitment to public safety and a transparent process before any other considerations," Jaczko said.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.