Final rule certifying NuScale SMR design published

January 20, 2023, 12:00PMNuclear News

A rendering of a NuScale VOYGR plant. (Image: NuScale Power)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final rule certifying NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design, making the Portland, Ore.–based company’s power module the first SMR design to be certified by the agency (and only the seventh reactor design okayed for use in the United States).

Published in yesterday’s Federal Register, the rule goes into effect on February 21, allowing utilities to reference the NuScale design when applying for a combined license to build and operate a reactor. The design will be incorporated as Appendix G to 10 CFR Part 52, Licenses, Certifications, and Approvals for Nuclear Power Plants.

As noted last July—when the commission voted unanimously to approve the design certification and directed staff to issue the final rule—an application for a nuclear power plant combined license that references a certified design does not need to address any of the issues resolved by the design certification rule. Instead, the combined license application and the NRC’s safety review would address any remaining safety and environmental issues for the proposed plant.

What they’re saying: “We are thrilled to announce the historic rulemaking from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for NuScale’s small modular reactor design, and we thank the Department of Energy for their support throughout this process,” said John Hopkins, NuScale’s president and chief executive officer. “The DOE has been an invaluable partner with a shared common goal—to establish an innovative and reliable carbon-free source of energy here in the U.S. We look forward to continuing our partnership and working with the DOE to bring the UAMPS [Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems] Carbon Free Power Project to completion.”

The DOE’s assistant secretary for nuclear energy Kathryn Huff noted, “SMRs are no longer an abstract concept. They are real and they are ready for deployment thanks to the hard work of NuScale, the university community, our national labs, industry partners, and the NRC. This is innovation at its finest, and we are just getting started here in the U.S.!”

Background: NuScale filed its application for certification of its SMR design in December 2016. The NRC accepted the application for review in March 2017 and in August 2020 issued a final safety evaluation report, putting the design on track to receive full design certification.

The DOE has provided more than $600 million since 2014 to support the design, licensing, and siting of NuScale’s VOYGR SMR power plant and other domestic SMR concepts. Currently, the department is working with UAMPS through the Carbon Free Power Project to demonstrate a six-module NuScale VOYGR plant at Idaho National Laboratory, with the first such module expected to be operational by 2029.

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