NRC Ponders 100-year License Extension

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission convened Thursday to discuss the possibility of a 100-year license for nuclear plants in the United States. The meeting is expected to revolve around potential safety-related issues such an extension could incur—such as the long-term effects of aging concrete, electrical wiring, instrumentation and process-driven components—in addition to the bureaucratic feasibility of such a move.

Operating a nuclear power plant a century after its initial construction poses serious questions for a country with over half of its nuclear facilities operating at 30 years or older. There are currently 56 nuclear plants operating commercially in the U.S. with 94 reactors backing them up—and each plant, under NRC mandate, was initially given a 40-year license to operate. More than 70 reactors have received 2-year extensions, and two plants—Florida’s Turkey Point and Pennsylvania’s Peach Bottom—have successfully received 80-year extensions. A spokesman for the NRC, Scott Burnell, estimates that every plant in the country has undergone renewal procedures at least once. Second renewals were first discussed by the NRC nearly a decade ago.

“With the way that our procedures are set up, you wouldn’t see any applications for a potential third renewal for about a decade,” Burnell said, “nuclear plants would need to operate for at least another 10 years before they could even have enough information to pursue a third renewal from the NRC.” At this time no nuclear plants have applied for the 100-year renewal.

For the past two decades Otek’s niche in the nuclear market has been to keep aging plants operating with Plug & Play, obsolescence-hardened digital instrumentation that offers an efficient, reliable, accurate, and innovative alternative to expensive flat-screen technology or obsolete analog meters. The company is expected to unveil its solution to obsolescence and overloaded spare inventory with its PNP (Plug N’ Play) line of fully interchangeable “One Size Fits All” instrumentation, later this year.

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