Approval Of Reactor May Lead To New Nuclear Plants

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Federal regulators have approved a nuclear reactor that was designed by Westinghouse Electric Co. that could power the first new plants built in the U.S. in more than three decades, The Associated Press reported.

According to the news outlet, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission unanimously approved the AP1000 reactor late last week. This certification, taking effect within two weeks, will be valid for a period of 15 years.

Gregory B. Jaczko, chairman of the commission, noted that all of the safety concerns for the new reactor had been fully addressed in the certification process, according to The New York Times.

“The design provides enhanced safety margins through use of simplified, inherent, passive or other innovative safety and security functions, and also has been assessed to ensure it could withstand damage from an aircraft impact without significant release of radioactive materials,” he said in a statement.

According to the newspaper, the decision is a rare agreement among the regulatory commissioners, who have been split this year on policy and management issues. Last week four of these individuals testified before Congress that Dr. Jaczko limited the flow of information to the other members.

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