Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review Turkey Point’s application for license renewal

Published on April 30, 2018 by Dave Kovaleski

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The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced last week that it will consider Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) application to extend the operating lifetime of its Turkey Point Power Nuclear Plant to 80 years.

This is the first application to extend the operating lifetime of a nuclear power plant and the fact that the NRC is considering has paved the way for others to follow suit.

“The NRC’s acceptance of the Turkey Point application for review is another positive step forward for making second license renewal a reality,” Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) Senior Project Manager of Life Extension and New Technology Jerud Hanson said. “We look forward to the agency’s prompt review of the application and hope other plants, as planned, will soon follow Turkey Point’s lead.”

Nuclear power plants are given an initial operating license lasting 40 years. License renewal allows them to operate for an additional 20 years, up to 60 years after their commercial operations have begun. Second license renewals will allow plants to operate for an additional 20 years, to a total operating life of up to 80 years.

The NEI said Nuclear plants are an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the electricity sector. The U.S. reactor fleet generates about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity—but 60 percent of its clean electricity. NEI stated that if all operating U.S. nuclear reactors were to get 80-year license extensions, about 3.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions would be avoided through 2050.

The NRC has set an 18-month review period for the Turkey Point application with a final decision should be expected in 2020. Also, three other plants are planning to apply for 80-year operating lifetimes in next two years, including Exelon Generation’s Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania; Dominion Energy’s Surry Power Station in Virginia; and Dominion Energy’s North Anna Power Station in Virginia.

“NEI invested a significant amount of time and effort working with FPL on its application, and those efforts have now paid off. NEI will continue to work with upcoming second license renewal applicants to assure their success,” Hanson added.

The NEI, citing research from the U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratories and the Electric Power Research Institute, said there would be no issues that would prevent a well-maintained nuclear power plant from operating safely during its second license renewal period.

“Almost all operating U.S. nuclear power plants have been granted their first license renewals by the NRC. Those plants which have entered operations under renewed licenses demonstrate that U.S. nuclear plants can safely operate beyond their initial 40-year license period,” Hanson noted. “We are now seeing the lead plants apply for second license renewal. Rigorous inspections, innovative maintenance, and repair techniques and continuous upgrades will ensure nuclear power plants continue to operate safely into the future.”