The topic of this podcast is the status of the design certification application for the Westinghouse AP1000, the system that has been chosen for about half of all of the new nuclear power plant projects that are currently planned in the United States.
Last week, the Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a press release indicating that the commission had determined that there were “technical issues” that must be resolved before a final design certification rule can be issued for the current iteration of the plant design.
Westinghouse has responded to publicity that resulted from that press release with a press release of its own, detailing its position on the remaining technical issues and providing its opinion that the issues will not require any redesign – just a completion of the requested details calculations.
I decided that there was a need for some addition information in this “he said”, “she said” drama, so I made contact with Jeff Merrifield. We chatted on May 27, 2011 via Skype and cell phone while he was waiting for a delayed flight.
Jeff served on the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1998-2007. He is now a senior vice president of the Shaw Group which is a partner (and part owner) with Westinghouse Electric Company, the designer of the AP1000. There are eight units of that Generation III advanced light water reactor plant in various stages of construction, with four units in China, two units at the Vogtle site in Georgia and two units at the VC Summer site in South Carolina.