The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not approve nuclear reactors to be added to a Jenkinsville plant until SCE&G can prove they will be plane crash proof.
NRC senior spokesman for the region, Roger Hannah explains, “They have said that they would make modifications in the design, do the appropriate tests and get that information back to us in the near future. Once we have that information, then our staff will review the changes in the design and determine if they meet the current regulations.”
Hannah says once the design is certified, SCE&G and Santee Cooper can use what is known as the Westinghouse AP-1000.
“It’s sort of a, for lack of a better term, an off-the-shelf process and we take that design and they can build that specific design at the site once they meet other requirements. As part of the design certification process, Westinghouse has made a number of changes or modifications to that particular design. The most recent modification raised certain questions about whether it could meet certain standards,” says Hannah.
Those standards are for ability to withstand aircraft crash tests.
Hannah says when the plans meet NRC regulations, they can move forward with certification of the building of the reactors. Roger Clements of the Friends of the Earth has called these sorts of standardized designs,”uncharted territory.”
Hannah says NRC is prepared to assess the safety of these reactors, in spite of the design differences: “There are some areas that the agency is looking at that it has not looked at before. this is a design that has not been constructed in this country, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t engineering standards or design features that we can look at and ensure that they meet all the regulations prior to them being constructed.”
South Carolina relies on nuclear for more than half of its energy generation. Hannah say, in this combined application review process, the NRC wants to make sure all the safety and environmental questions are answered at the front end.
Construction on the two units in Jenkinsville is still years away.