License application for Oklo unit denied

January 7, 2022, 9:06AMNuclear News
An artist's rendition of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has denied “without prejudice” Oklo Power’s application to build and operate its Aurora microreactor in Idaho, the agency announced yesterday. The denial, according to the NRC, is due to the California-based firm’s failure to provide sufficient information on several crucial topics regarding the Aurora design.

Oklo submitted its combined license application on March 11, 2020, for Aurora—a 1.5-MWe compact fast spectrum microreactor—to be built at Idaho National Laboratory. (The NRC and Oklo had begun preapplication discussions in 2016.) Agency staff accepted the application for docketing on June 5, 2020, making Aurora the first advanced non–light water reactor to be accepted for review by the NRC.

In its announcement, the NRC stated that it had taken “a novel approach of working to align with Oklo on identified information gaps related to key design and safety aspects early in the process before developing a review schedule.” This approach included topical reports submitted by Oklo in July 2021—specifically, Maximum Credible Accident Methodology, Revision 2, and Performance Based Licensing Methodology, Revision 0—that the NRC deemed incomplete. Oklo supplemented those reports in October 2021, but the revisions failed to satisfy.

Following the publication of an upcoming Federal Register notice on the NRC’s decision, Oklo will have 30 days to request a hearing.

What they’re saying: “Oklo’s application continues to contain significant information gaps in its description of Aurora’s potential accidents, as well as its classification of safety systems and components,” said Andrea Veil, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. “These gaps prevent further review activities. We are prepared to re-engage with Oklo if they submit a revised application that provides the information we need for a thorough and timely review.”

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