PPL can relicense its nuclear station

August 28, 2009

No safety issues found to prevent reactors from running another 20 years.


By Rory Sweeney 

Times Leader Staff Writer

 The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded that there are no safety issues that would stop PPL Corp. from relicensing its Susquehanna nuclear station for another 20 years, according to a report released by the agency on Thursday.


 The report represents the NRC’s audit of the Susquehanna Steam Electric Station in Salem Township and the company’s programs to manage the equipment as it ages. PPL has identified the potential issues and taken or planned to take the actions necessary to ensure the safety of the infrastructure beyond its current licensing period, which runs until 2022 and 2024 for reactor units 1 and 2, respectively.


A “significant milestone,” according to the NRC, the report completes one of two tracks the agency takes when considering relicensing. The other, for environmental issues, is still outstanding.


Company spokesman Joe Scopelliti said the report keeps the company on pace to finish the relicensing by the end of the year.


Eric Epstein, who runs the nuclear watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert out of Dauphin County, found the agency’s report of no issues predictable. “The issue never was if, but when,” he said. “This is an agency that would relicense the Hindenburg to fly children to Disneyworld.”


The relicensing would keep the reactors open until 2042 and 2044.


On Oct. 8, the NRC will present its findings to the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, an independent body of experts that advises the NRC on nuclear safety matters. The committee will subsequently offer its own assessment to the NRC.


A final decision by the NRC on the application is expected in December.