When did Byron receive its original operating license?
Byron Unit 1 received its operating license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 1984 and Byron Unit 2 received its operating license in 1986.
Why does Byron need to renew its operating license?
Nuclear energy plants in the United States are licensed to operate for 40 years. The 40-year license term reflects the amortization period generally used by electric utility companies for large capital investments. The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 permits nuclear plants to renew their operating licenses.
Byron Unit 1’s original license continues through 2024 and Unit 2’s license continues through 2026. With license renewal, Byron Generating Station Unit 1 and Unit 2 will be able to continue to produce clean, low-cost energy until 2044 and 2046.
How will Byron receive license renewal?
To receive license renewal approval, a nuclear plant must pass a rigorous process. First, the plant must submit a license renewal application to the NRC. After the application is submitted, the license renewal review process will begin and the public is involved. The NRC will hold meetings for the public to learn about the process and provide comments on aspects of the application.
Will the events in Japan affect the review process of Byron's license renewal application?
We understand there is a heightened interest in the safety of nuclear power in the United States since the earthquake and tsunami affected Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plants. But we can assure you that Byron, like all of Exelon’s nuclear plants and those throughout the U.S., continues to operate safely. Very shortly after the March events in Japan, the U.S. industry collectively reviewed and inspected its capabilities to protect the public in the unlikely event of an accident prompted by natural events. We reviewed procedures, equipment, technical specifications, and our training programs to ensure all were in working order, and we immediately took steps to fix things that weren’t as rigorous as we would have liked. These reviews occurred outside of the license renewal process and Byron and the industry will continue to look for and implement lessons learned as needed, as our industry is built on continuous improvement and a commitment to safe operations.
Will the NRC add new regulations into the license renewal process in response to Japan's Fukushima events?
At this point, the NRC is not making any changes to the license renewal process. However, the NRC’s license renewal process is very rigorous. The NRC thoroughly reviews all applications and conducts inspections and audits of the plant’s aging management programs to ensure the plant will safely produce energy through the period of extended operation. The NRC also reviews Byron's environmental programs to ensure there will be no adverse effect on the environment.
If the review process by the NRC takes 22-30 months, then why are you submitting your license renewal application almost 11 years before you need to apply?
We have enough operating experience at Byron to know our aging management programs work. Knowing the life of the plant will allow Exelon to better plan for capital improvements at Byron. Lastly, it is permitted by law. A licensee can apply for license renewal 20 years after commercial operation began.
Is there enough room to store the used fuel if your license is extended?
Yes. Byron currently stores used fuel in a spent fuel pool as well as dry cask storage. Byron’s current dry cask storage facility has enough space to store Byron’s used fuel through the end of the operating licenses for Byron Unit 1 and Unit 2 and beyond. An additional pad may be built, or the current pad extended, to accommodate additional used fuel if Byron enters a period of extended operation and a national repository is not opened yet. There is enough room at Byron to safely store used fuel for decades.