photo credit: striatic
Nearly three-quarters of all US nuclear plants have applied for twenty year license renewals from the NRC. Fifty-four units have received approval of their applications from the NRC. An additional twenty are still awaiting decisions from the regulator. If your plant has made its license renewal application (LRA) is it time to take a breath? Not if you expect to benefit from this new lease on life.
The approval of the LRA is literally the beginning of the work. The LRA, as with many interactions with the regulator, is in itself a body of investigation, and analysis, which results in plant commitments for the new operating period. The commitments are generated from investigating the usefulness and design life of mechanical, electrical and civil components and systems needed for safe operation of the plant and safety of the public.
When license renewal is approved (and sometimes prior to receipt of approval if LRA is submitted close to the end of the initial forty year license) the promises and commitments established in the application and its supplements must be translated into an implementation plan that includes both the activities necessary before entering the extended period of operation and those aging effects monitoring activities that must be incorporated into the plant’s lifecycle plans.
Many actions are necessary ahead of the renewed operating period to validate the assumptions made in the LRA. These are critical and should have priority to assure the plant is ready for the next twenty years when it comes to the end of the current forty year license. Priority must be given to the procedures, technologies to be deployed and scheduling of resources to assure these activities occur prior to starting the renewal period. This includes looking ahead to appropriate outage windows and assuring adequate time exists for plant staff to implement the necessary inspections. Too often making the milestone of LRA submittal is not followed by an active implementation effort to assure the plant meets its commitments. BCP is now seeing implementation efforts that have lagged, creating a bow wave of work that must be completed in the last couple fuel cycles. This lack of preparation does not go unnoticed by the regulator.
Beyond the activities needed prior to entering the renewal period, the engineering and technical programs must be updated to include the LRA commitments, inspections and related activities to validate the performance and aging assumptions made concerning the design. Life extension modifications and other capital asset plans need to be integrated with the plant lifecycle plans to assure efficient and effective power production is maintained throughout the new lease on life for the plant.
BCP’s team of license renewal experts can assist with your plant’s license renewal application and license renewal implementation to assure you receive the maximum benefit from your investment in plant and programs.