After 34 years, the United States is expected to resume construction of nuclear reactors by the end of the year, and Toshiba will export turbine equipment for the reactors to the U.S. early next month, it was learned Saturday.
TOKYO — After 34 years, the United States is expected to resume construction of nuclear reactors by the end of the year, and Toshiba will export turbine equipment for the reactors to the U.S. early next month, it was learned Saturday.
According to sources, construction will begin by year-end on the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia and the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors of the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station in South Carolina.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to shortly approve the construction and operation of the reactors, which have been designed by Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Toshiba.
The decision to resume construction of reactors is expected to pave the way for Japan to export related equipment to the United States, observers said.
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The reactors to be constructed are of the AP1000 type, an advanced 1,100-megawatt pressurized water reactor, and are targeted to go into operation in 2016 at the earliest.
The AP1000 can better withstand disasters — the outer structure is so strong it can handle the impact of a large airplane crashing into it — and is designed to automatically cool down over a 72-hour period even after external power is lost. Four AP1000 reactors are currently being built in China.
Toshiba will export to the United States core equipment for the reactors that helps convert steam back to water, the sources said.
Before the construction of a reactor can begin, it needs to receive a final safety-assessment report from the NRC as well as NRC approval for its construction and operation.
The NRC issued final safety-assessment reports for the four reactors in the summer after the onset of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear-power plant in Japan.
U.S. electric-power companies, which plan to construct the four reactors, already have started procuring equipment and have entered the final stage in preparation for the construction of the four reactors, as the utilities are likely to receive NRC approval soon.
The United States has 104 reactors in operation, making the country the world’s largest nuclear-energy producer. However, after the Three Mile Island nuclear-power-plant meltdown in 1979, construction of new nuclear-power plants was suspended.
Former U.S. President George W. Bush, who called for less dependence on Middle East oil, shifted policy toward resumption of construction of nuclear-power plants.
Since 2007, many electric-power companies have applied to build new nuclear-power plants. The NRC is currently screening 26 new reactors.
Following the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear-power plant, the NRC placed priority on safety assessments for existing nuclear-power plants, delaying the screening of new projects.
No construction on reactors has been carried out in the United States since January 1978.
Capitalizing on the planned construction of the four reactors, the Toshiba-Westinghouse alliance will try to secure more orders for advanced reactors from other countries.