Thursday, July 17, 2008

The NRC Licensing Process

In case you missed it: NEI's Sr. Director of New Plant Deployment, Adrian Heymer, appeared this afternoon on CNBC's Street Signs to discuss the licensing process with Michael Johnson, the NRC's Director of New Reactors. The entire segment can be seen here.

Heymer is optimistic that the application process can be significantly shortened:

Once the first applications have gone in and they've gone through the process and we've incorporated lessons learned and the industry sticks to standardization - a cookie cutter approach - we believe that the licensing process can be done in 'round about 27 months.


Anonymous said...

2 years 3 months as a best case scenario to approve a new plant using a plant design already approved is government gone wild.

The incredible amount of bureaucracy that has built up in America might now be the number one reason companies are outsourcing in other nations. Why go through endless regulations and red tape in America when you can have whatever you want to build completed by the time the regulators in America give you an answer.. and that answer might be no.

Now residential power the plant must be built close by, but any product being manufactured you just build in China or some third world nation.

Ultimately it falls on the President as chief executive of the government to reign in out of control growth of bureaucracy. Which government agencies left untended will always grow into a tangled bureaucratic mess, because of human nature.


Rod Adams said...


Thanks for posting the link. It is good to note that CNBC is questioning the fact that the NRC review process is scheduled to take between 42-48 months. I do believe that is excessive considering the fact that the full process of inventing and building the Shippingport reactor took about that same amount of time.

It is kind of funny, however, that one of the best known media outlets in support of free market capitalism seems to be pining for an electrical power system with one utility and one standard plant design.

There is goodness in standardization - one Toyota Corrolla should be built to the same design as the next one. However, there is also goodness in competition - there is no reason whatsoever to believe that one size fits all or that every US power plant should be built by the same vendor.

There is not even any reason to believe that the five "standard" designs represent the best that we can do - technology moves forward and there are at least 5 additional designs that have already made contact with the NRC about their license approval process.

I know for a fact that there is at least one more that has not yet queued up for a variety of reasons, and I have a strong suspicion that there are several others in various stages of design.

Somehow, we have to make people realize that the process of approving a new plant design has to be continually adapted and refined.

My initial suggestion for a time saver is to work to remove the evacuation planning requirement. The technical reality is that evacuation would be a ridiculous response to any conceivable event at any of the proposed designs. In all cases, it would actually increase the risk of negative public health effects.

Anonymous said...

I hope they are right. My experience leads me to think otherwise. I was involved in relicensing a 0.5 MW research reactor. We submitted the application in Dec. of 1999. We received a letter this past month stating that the relicensing had been approved. So by my ciphering 12/99 to 6/08 is a total of 103 months, or a little over eight and a half years. True, it isn't a pre-approved, standardized design, but it isn't as complex as a power reactor either. So maybe they can do better with gigawatt-range power reactors, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

"Only 27 months" to license a reactor that is already approved is an oxymoron. They need to pear that process down to around 12 months.

Joseph Somsel said...

We're being told 42 months for a certified design. But then it told 18 months to generate the COL application. That included field work like core drilling which is required in any case.

I think the environmental report is the worst time waster, especially for new units on an existing site. Really, why bother?

Anonymous said...

"My initial suggestion for a time saver is to work to remove the evacuation planning requirement."

Can you imagine the public response to an industry move to eliminate evacuation planning, especially as a "time saver" for licensing new units?