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NRC’s Public Comment Period Ends on GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s Application for ESBWR Reactor Certification

June 23, 2011

  • ESBWR Remains on Track for NRC’s Final Design Certification in the Fall of 2011
  • GEH’s New Reactor Poised to be One of the First Generation III+ Designs Certified for US Construction

WILMINGTON, N.C.—June 23, 2011—GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) today announced the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has completed its 75-day public comment period on GEH’s application for final design certification of its Generation III+ Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). The ESBWR is GEH’s newest reactor design that offers the world’s most advanced passive safety systems and simplified construction and operation.

During the NRC’s 75-day public comment period ending June 7, 2011, the agency received three comments (including one that was complimentary of the ESBWR’s new passive safety features) that must be addressed as part of the final rulemaking process for design certification. Since the public comment period opened, the ESBWR has been on track to receive final certification in the fall of 2011.

The NRC’s final certification of a reactor technology is necessary before the agency can issue a combined construction and operating license to a U.S. utility to build a new nuclear power plant featuring that reactor model. The agency’s review process involves an intensive, years-long examination of the reactor’s safety features and engineering schematics. GEH submitted its ESBWR design certification application to the agency in August 2005.

“The limited number of public comments received is a reflection of the NRC staff’s thoroughness in reviewing our application, as well as our team’s successful efforts to provide the NRC with the information it needed as quickly as possible,” said Caroline Reda, president and CEO of GEH. “GEH stands ready to respond with any additional information the NRC may need to help ensure a timely completion of the federal rulemaking process to secure the long-awaited certification of the ESBWR design for construction in the United States.”

In March 2011, the ESBWR completed the last major interim regulatory reviews by receiving a positive final safety evaluation report (FSER) and final design approval (FDA). The positive FSER cleared the way for the ESBWR to receive final design certification required for U.S. deployment. Meanwhile, the FDA constituted a finding by the NRC that the ESBWR is safe and all technical issues had been resolved. As a result, the FDA clears the way for the ESBWR's global deployment.

In the United States, Michigan utility DTE Energy has selected the ESBWR design for a potential reactor project next to its existing Fermi 2 plant south of Detroit. The NRC is currently reviewing DTE Energy’s license application for the Fermi 3 project, which serves as the agency’s “reference combined license application” for the ESBWR design.

Abroad, the state-owned utility Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. and GEH are jointly pursuing project technical and commercial discussions for a proposed, multi-unit ESBWR reactor power plant as part of India’s nuclear energy expansion program.

A single ESBWR project would create several thousand construction jobs, several hundred permanent engineering positions, opportunities for local equipment and service vendors and a new revenue stream for local governments.

About GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy

Based in Wilmington, N.C., GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) is a world-leading provider of advanced reactors and nuclear services. Established in June 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry. The nuclear alliance executes a single, strategic vision to create a broader portfolio of solutions, expanding its capabilities for new reactor and service opportunities. The alliance offers customers around the world the technological leadership required to effectively enhance reactor performance, power output and safety.

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