Beyond Nuclear opposes second license extension for Peach Bottom nuclear plant


November 20, 2018

Contact: Paul Gunter, Director, Reactor Oversight Project, Beyond
Nuclear, 301-523-0201
David Lochbaum, independent nuclear engineer and expert witness,


Beyond Nuclear opposes second license extension for Peach Bottom

nuclear plant

Relicensing could see aging PA reactors run for 80 years with deteriorating safety

TAKOMA PARK, MD -- Scientific knowledge gaps in the management of reactor safety
issues caused by aging, and acknowledged by the nuclear industry, have prompted
Beyond Nuclear to challenge an application to extend the operating license for two
nuclear reactors in Pennsylvania.

Beyond Nuclear, an environmental advocacy group based in Takoma Park, MD, is
opposing an application from Exelon Generation, owner of the Peach Bottom nuclear
power plant in Delta, PA, to extend the operating lifetime of its two reactors there for
another 20 years.

Exelon has submitted a Second License Renewal (SLR) application for an additional
20-year extension of the operating license for Peach Bottom units 2 and 3.

Beyond Nuclear submitted a request on Monday asking the US Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) for a public hearing and intervention before the NRC’s Atomic
Safety Licensing Board.

The hearing would address the application’s failure to comply with NRC regulations
that require Exelon to demonstrate how it will manage increasing wear and tear caused
by the combination of extreme heat, pressure, radiation and vibration on Peach Bottom
safety systems throughout the requested 60- to 80-year extended period of operation.

Both units are GE Mark I boiling water reactors and are already operating within their
first approved 20-year license extension to the original 40-year license which expired in
2013 and 2014, respectively. Exelon is now seeking NRC approval to extend the
operation of Peach Bottom Unit 2 from 2033 to 2053 and Unit 3 from 2034 to 2054.

“According to NRC regulations, the onus is on Exelon to demonstrate in its application
how Peach Bottom operators will manage the destructive e
ffects of aging on safety
systems and the material reliability of structures and components for the extension

period,” said Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project with Beyond
“This application fails to satisfy NRC regulations that require Peach Bottom to
have e
ffective age management programs throughout the next license renewal period,”
he said.

Presently, there are as many as 16 known significant age-related degradation
mechanisms (i.e. radiation and thermal induced embrittlement, stress corrosion
cracking, fatigue) attacking the base metals, welds, concrete and entire systems
including more than 1,200 miles of control, instrumentation and power cables at the
two-unit reactor site. The industry, the regulator and national laboratories publicly
acknowledge an abundance of gaps, deficiencies, and uncertainties in their present
understanding of how these aging degradation mechanisms and their synergies
destructively impact reactor safety and performance.

Analyzing a sufficient amount of information on the material condition of reactor
systems, structures and components collected from reactor operating experience is
essential, in fact required, to reasonably project Peach Bottom’s safety performance
into the future.

However, reactors in the US are closing due to a variety of economical, technological
and political challenges. Several reactors have closed in just the past few years, more
upcoming closures have been announced, and others could possibly close before
Peach Bottom enters the proposed second license renewal period in 2033 and 2034.
As currently trending, the amount of operating experience could be significantly
reduced, consequentially reducing age management insights needed for the requested
license renewal period.

“Exelon fails to acknowledge just how dependent its age management programs are
on evidence gathered internally from Peach Bottom’s operating experience and
externally from other reactors of like design and materials,” said Gunter, citing from
expert testimony submitted with the legal filing to the NRC.

“Further, the application fails to address when the number of reactor closures and the
associated reduction in the amount of external operating experience impairs the
ffectiveness of its age management programs,” he continued.

“Of more concern, the application is silent on how Exelon would provide the required
operating experience gathered from alternate sources including strategic autopsies on
the growing number of decommissioning reactors like Exelon’s Oyster Creek plant in
New Jersey,” Gunter added.

According to Beyond Nuclear’s expert witness, David Lochbaum, a widely recognized
independent nuclear engineer on reactor safety, “In order to comply with NRC
relicensing regulations and protect public health and safety, Exelon needs to address
several factors. First, how much of Exelon’s age management programs depends on
operating experience of other reactors; second, how will Exelon determine what 
amount of operating experience information is sufficient to assure safety, and finally;
how the required operating experience will be augmented if it is found to be
fficient,” Lochbaum said.

Beyond Nuclear concludes that without Exelon first demonstrating how it will reliably
manage the increasing e
ffects of aging during the second renewal, Peach Bottom
cannot be relicensed.

Additional links:
Beyond Nuclear Request for Public Hearing and Leave to Intervene

Attachments to Hearing Request