GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy ESBWR technology clears regulatory hurdle

Wilmington, N.C., October 26, 2010 — GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy announced its next-generation reactor model, the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, has passed a crucial safety review performed by an advisory committee for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Completion of this review clears a key hurdle in the company’s bid for design certification of the ESBWR, which now begins the federal rulemaking process. This sets the stage for final NRC certification by the fall of 2011.

In its October 20, 2010, letter, the NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards issued its safety recommendation for the ESBWR design, which is required before a new nuclear reactor technology can achieve final certification.

From this point, the process takes about one calendar year to complete, thus keeping to the NRC’s schedule. As a result, GEH‘s technology is on target to become a certified “Generation III+” reactor model. GE submitted the ESBWR to the NRC in August 2005.

The 1,520-MW ESBWR offers what GEH believes is the world’s most advanced passive safety features, simplified construction and operation and the lowest core damage frequency on the market today.

In addition, the ESBWR’s innovative digital instrumentation and control design and development process are rigorously compliant to nuclear regulations and globally recognized standards.

GEH and Michigan utility DTE Energy are collaborating on a potential ESBWR project adjacent to its existing Fermi 2 nuclear plant, 35 miles south of Detroit.

The NRC is currently reviewing the utility’s license application for the proposed Fermi Unit 3. DTE Energy, which operates Detroit Edison, Michigan’s largest electric utility, has not yet made a decision to proceed with construction of the new reactor.

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