Nuclear Units Can Operate Beyond 60 Years


"The Office of Nuclear Energy strongly supports very important program."

No reason has yet been discovered why light-water power reactors couldn't operate beyond 60 years but coordinated, near-term research efforts should address the issues, industry and government officials said Tuesday.

Cosponsored by the DOE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Energy Institute, the three-day workshop in Washington examined "life beyond 60" issues for power reactors. The event followed on a DOE-NRC workshop held in February 2008.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko told the workshop, "It's very important that we guard against any potential sense of complacency about aging management and license renewal."

Some 61 of the 104 operating U.S. power reactors had their initial 40-year licenses renewed by NRC for another 20 years.

Jaczko said, "The industry has done good work in developing effective aging management programs to meet NRC safety requirements. . .But it's also important to recognize that we have very limited experience in seeing how aging management programs actually work after the initial 40-year period of operation."

Jaczko also said, "If the industry's research demonstrates that licensees can safely conduct extended operation beyond 60 years, the NRC has every reason to believe that the licensing reviews will proceed efficiently and effectively."

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