Korea’ s Homegrown Nuclear Power Reactor Virtually Allowed in U.S.
It is the first time that a foreign company has received a design certification from the US NRC
Ahn Dae-geun, head of the KHNP Washington D.C. Center, receives the standard design approval for the APR 1400 design from Frederick Brown,director of the Division of Inspection and Regional Support in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. (Photos: KHNP)
The Advanced Power Reactor 1400 (APR1400), Korea’s homegrown nuclear power technology, has obtained a standard design certification by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC), nearly allowing the use of the technology in the United States.
The U.S. nuclear regulatory authority issued a design certification on the APR1400, Korea’s next-generation nuclear reactor, eight years after the application was submitted. It is the first time that a foreign company has received a design certification from the US NRC. That means the safety of the APR1400 is certified, so that it can be built and operated in the United States, further raising the possibility of exporting the technology abroad.
The US NRC said the issue of the design certification, to be valid for 15 years, means it sees no problems in the use of the plant in the United States. The 1400ME reactor can be outfitted with an improved shutdown system in a safe fashion in case of an accident, it said.
A final legal process remains for the technology. It is to be put in an official gazette of the U.S. federal government, and if there is no opposition, it will be formally approved, a KHNP official said.
APR1400, a 4,000-MWt pressured-water reactor (PWR), is Korea’s next generation reactor, developed by upgrading OPR1000, Korea’s flagship nuclear reactor model.
Shin-Hanul Unit 1 &2 is being built with APR1400 on top of the construction of Shin-Kori Units 3 through 6. Four nuclear power units in the United Arab Emirates are also built using the APR-1400 reactor.
KHNP began to prepare for the standard design certification for APR1400 in December 2010. In December 2014, KHNP submitted an application for a review of the certification to the US NRC. The U.S. commission completed the review of the application in September 2018, 42 months after it was launched in March 2015.
Five cases of design certification have been so far approved by the US NRC. All of them were submitted by Westinghouse and GE. Areva of France and Mitsubishi of Japan submitted an application of a standard design certification in December 2012, but their reviews have been suspended.
The standard design certification for APR1400 is expected to reduce the time and costs for licensing of construction and operation of a nuclear power plant, giving KHNP an advantage in entering the U.S. nuclear power market, a KHNP official said.
The certification is recognized as a reliable technology index both in the United States and the global nuclear power industry, so it is expected to boost the Korean nuclear power exporting industry’s standing abroad, the official said.
APR1400 has been recognized in major countries across the world. Earlier, EU-APR, a European export version of APR1400, has passed a review of design certification by the European Utility Requirements (EUR).
Prof. Chung Yong-hoon of KAISt said technology review on the safety of APR1400 was wrapped up last year, and this time, a rule-making process has been completed, so there is no problem in both technology and legal perspective in the construction of APR1400 in the United States.
A detailed design of Korea’s homegrown nuclear power reactor “APR1400,”