In August 2020, NuScale reached a significant regulatory milestone with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). We made history as the company with the first ever small modular reactor (SMR) to receive NRC design approval—signaling to the world that NuScale is truly the U.S. leader in the race to bring SMRs to market. The NRC completed Phase 6 review—the last and final phase—of NuScale’s Design Certification Application (DCA) with the issuance of the Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER). In September 2020, the NRC issued Standard Design Approval, which means that customers can move forward with plans to develop NuScale power plants, knowing that safety aspects of the NuScale design are NRC-approved.
The NRC embraced the challenge of reviewing the first-ever small modular reactor DCA, which at the time not only marked an important milestone for NuScale, but also for the nuclear industry as a whole. NuScale’s DCA was completed in December 2016, submitted to the NRC in January, and accepted for review in March 2017. NuScale spent over $500 million, with the backing of Fluor, and over 2 million labor hours to develop the information needed to prepare its DCA. The NRC does a very vigorous review, expending over a quarter million staff hours reviewing the DCA. In support of the NRC review, NuScale’s DCA was about 12,000 pages including 14 topical reports, and NuScale provided more than 2 million pages of supporting information for NRC review and audit.
The Regulatory Approval Process and NuScale’s SMR
NuScale’s SMR design addressed NRC licensing requirements with two distinct advantages. First, NuScale’s SMR is designed with fewer systems and demonstrates singular simplicity. Second, the elegantly simple NuScale plant provides greater levels of safety that translate into larger operating margins and more flexible design solutions for support systems.
The NuScale Integral System Test (NIST-2) facility in Corvallis, Oregon was designed and built to assist in the verification and validation of key analytical tools and assumptions. The NIST-2 facility provides nuclear qualified systems data to validate NuScale’s cutting-edge thermal hydraulic safety analysis computer codes as needed for NRC design certification, including flow stability, long-term cooling tests, and loss of coolant accident events known as “LOCA” events. NuScale Power also has a main control room simulator that demonstrates the robustness of the NuScale design under transient conditions and will aid in the development of Human Factors analyses and address operational issues. The purpose of the simulator facility is to demonstrate NuScale’s concept of operation and plant technology to the NRC and other stakeholders.
NuScale continues to maintain strong program momentum toward commercialization of its SMR technology, including supply chain development, standard plant design, planning of plant delivery activities, and startup and commissioning plans. We are actively engaged with our manufacturing partners and will be ready to deliver the first NuScale Power Modules to a client in 2027. The NuScale SMR design will be incorporated into customers’ combined license applications (COLAs).
As part of the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP), the first NuScale 12-module reference plant in Idaho is expected to be fully operational by 2030, with the first of 12 modules online by 2029. All NRC laws, rules, and regulations will apply to siting, construction, operation, and decommissioning of the NuScale SMR plant for the project, including a full NRC-led review of the COLA. The CFPP COLA will be subject to an environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as a safety review of operational issues including water, seismic, transmission, workforce, security, and emergency preparedness.
July 1, 2021: The U.S. NRC is taking public comments on proposed rulemaking for NuScale’s SMR standard design certification. The comment period was recently extended to mid-October 2021.
Learn more about the UAMPS Carbon Free Power Project.
Search NRC ADAMS for information NuScale has submitted to the NRC and their correspondence back.
Read about the NuScale project on NRC’s website.
Take virtual tours of the Power Plant Control Room Simulator, Integral System Test Facility, and the Upper Module Mockup Facility.