Entergy Nuclear applying for license renewal for Grand Gulf

PORT GIBSON  — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has opened a public comment period on Grand Gulf Nuclear Station’s license to operate for another 20 years.

The Vicksburg Post reports the NRC is in the middle of a 22-month review of the renewal application.

Entergy Nuclear filed the application last November. That started a multistep process expected to culminate in September 2013 with a decision from the NRC.

Grand Gulf has operated since 1985. Entergy Nuclear jointly owns the plant with Entergy’s Arkansas, Louisiana and New Orleans subsidiaries.

In January, work began on a $510 million upgrade to the Grand Gulf’s electricity generating capacity. Entergy officials have said after the upgrade, Grand Gulf will be able to produce enough electricity to power an additional 53,000 homes round the clock for the life of the plant.

Output is expected to rise 13 percent to 1,443 megawatts, making Grand Gulf the nation’s most powerful single reactor.

Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, in Arizona, has three reactors and is the nation’s largest generation facility.

NRC project managers told a public meeting this week in Port Gibson that the plant’s current license expires in 2024. They said the plant’s safety record and impact of plant operations on multiple aspects of the environment will form the basis of the renewal.

Safety issues cover items included in the plant’s annual safety rating, such as fire protection and seamlessness of operations without a shutdown, said Nate Ferrer, an NRC project manager for the plant safety review.

“The safety review focuses on the effects of aging on all different types of systems, structures and components,” Ferrer said. Thirty staff and contract reviewers will study the application and supporting paperwork, he said.

Grand Gulf’s safety procedures rated favorably for the third quarter of 2011, according to the NRC. It duplicated similarly positive ratings for 2010 and 2009. An annual safety report is presented publicly each spring.

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