NRC Proposes to Certify Westinghouse Electric Company's AP600 Reactor Design

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No. 99-100
May 14, 1999


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is proposing to amend its regulations to certify the AP600 standard plant design developed by the Westinghouse Electric Company. The certification would be the third to be issued under the NRC's new licensing process for standard design certification and would be valid for 15 years.

The public is invited to submit comments on the proposed design certification rule, the AP600 design control document submitted by Westinghouse which has been incorporated into the NRC rule, and the environmental assessment of the AP600 design. Interested parties also may request an informal hearing. Both comments and hearing requests on the proposed rule change should be filed within 75 days of publication of a notice on the AP600 which will be published shortly in the Federal Register.

Last fall, the NRC issued a final design approval for the Westinghouse AP600 plant, completing the staff's technical review of the application for design certification received in 1992. This step permitted the staff to begin the administrative, or rulemaking, phase.

The AP600 design is for a nuclear power plant that would be capable of producing 600 megawatts of electricity. The plant, which can be assembled from modular components, features enhanced safety systems that rely on gravity and pressure differentials to safely shut the reactor down or mitigate the effects of an accident. It is designed for a 60-year operating life.

If certified by the Commission, a utility that wishes to build and operate a new nuclear power plant could choose to use the design and reference it in an application for a license. Safety issues within the scope of the certified design would not be subject to litigation, although site-specific environmental impacts associated with building and operating the plant at a particular location would be.

Future applicants for a license could make plant-specific changes to portions of the AP600 standard design by following the procedures set out in the design certification rule. The applicant would be required to maintain records of all such changes until the license is terminated.

No application for a license using the AP600 standard design has been filed with the NRC.

Written comments as well as hearing requests on the proposed amendment to 10 CFR Part 52 should be addressed to the Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C., 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications staff. Comments may also be submitted via the NRC's electronic rulemaking website at Select "rulemaking" from the tool bar and then "rulemaking forum." In addition to NRC, a copy of each hearing request must be sent by overnight mail to Brian A. McIntyre, Manager, Advanced Plant Safety and Licensing, Westinghouse Electric Co., P.O.B. 355, Pittsburgh, PA 15230-0355.

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