The AP1000 provides a high degree of public safety and licensing certainty. It draws upon more than 40 years of experience in light water reactor components and technology, so no demonstration plant is required. The AP1000 is heavily based on the AP600 design, which has already received United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (U.S. NRC) Design Certification. While clearly advanced in its application of passive safety features, AP1000 is still based on the very same Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) technology that has accumulated thousands of reactor-years of successful operation internationally since the first PWR went on line in Shippingport, Pa., in 1957.
On September 13, 2004, the U.S. NRC granted a Final Design Approval (FDA) to Westinghouse for the AP1000 advanced reactor design. The approval is good for five years. The Westinghouse AP1000 standard plant design is the first Generation III+ reactor to receive FDA from the NRC. (Generation III+ is the Department of Energy's nomenclature for the new generation of competitive reactor designs that will follow the Generation III Advanced Light Water Reactors developed in the 1990s.)
The U.S. NRC agency anticipates issuing a standard Design Certification in the form of an Appendix to 10CFR52 by December 2005, or possibly up to five months earlier. If granted, a Design Certification would be good for 15 years and renewable in terms of 10 to 15 years.
The final safety evaluation report (FSER), required for the FDA, was also issued on September 13, 2004.
To "fast-track" the building of an AP1000, work has begun on COL (combined construction and operating license) tasks. This will reduce the time needed by an operator to get a plant licensed.