Environmental Science Division (EVS) a Division of Argonne National Laboratory
Program Highlights Index

Licensing of Nuclear Power Plants

For over 40 years, Argonne has supported the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in evaluations of applications for the licensing of nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities.

For over 40 years, Argonne has supported the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in evaluations of applications for the licensing of nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities. Argonne's support to the NRC in the 1970s and 1980s was primarily related to the licensing of currently operating reactors and uranium production facilities. Near the turn of this century, the support shifted to license renewals for operating reactors. More recently, we have been reviewing applications for the construction and operation of new reactors and uranium enrichment facilities.

Since 2007, after a hiatus of approximately 30 years, the nuclear industry has submitted a number of applications to the NRC to license new nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities. Under a new licensing regime, the NRC reviews applications for design certification (DC) of standard reactor designs, early site permits (ESPs) for qualification of sites for future nuclear power plant construction, and combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) for power plants of specific designs at specific sites.

Argonne staff members have supported or are currently supporting the NRC in the review and approval of two DC applications (the U.S. Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor and the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor), one ESP application (at the Victoria County Station site near Victoria, Texas), and six COL applications (Fermi Unit 3 near Detroit, Michigan; Nine Mile Point Unit 3, near Oswego, New York; South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 near Bay City, Texas; Comanche Peak Units 3 and 4 near Granbury, Texas; Bell Bend Nuclear Power Plant near Berwick, Pennsylvania; and Callaway Plant Unit 2 near Fulton, Missouri). Argonne's support has consisted of environmental review and/or safety review of these applications. Some applications (the Victoria County Station ESP and the Nine Mile Point Unit 3 and Callaway Plant Unit 2 COLs) have now been withdrawn, suspended, or put on hold at the request of the applicants. As a result, the NRC is no longer actively reviewing these applications.

On the fuel cycle facility side, Argonne staff supported the NRC in the preparation and issuance of environmental impact statements for the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site, near Aiken South Carolina; the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility in Bonneville County, near Idaho Falls, Idaho; and the GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment Facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. After the NRC issued a Construction Authorization, the South Carolina facility is currently under construction. Licenses have been issued for the proposed Idaho and North Carolina facilities.

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