This early acceptance further demonstrates progress towards the completion of the first EPR to be deployed in the United States by 2015.
The NRC staff determined that the content of the design certification (DC) application met the acceptance criteria for the safety review to begin.
The NRC's October audit of AREVA's application was important in helping the NRC reach the conclusion today that no open items need to be resolved before the review begins.
"Our commitment to our customers and the industry is to provide the path of greatest certainty toward safe, affordable, new baseload generation in the United States by the end of 2015," said Ray Ganthner, senior vice president of AREVA's New Plants Deployment group.
"The timely submittal and now acceptance of a high-quality, complete DC application are important milestones in helping us fulfill that vision."
Ganthner attributes the quality of the design application to the comprehensiveness of the global EPR design now under construction in Finland and France.
Formal acceptance and docketing of the U.S. EPR design certification application, prepared by AREVA and submitted to the NRC in mid-December 2007, is closely linked to the agency's acceptance of UniStar Nuclear Energy's combined operating license (COL) application for a proposed U.S. EPR at a site adjacent to Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, Md. UniStar submitted a portion of the COL application in July 2007 and plans to submit the remainder of the COL application in March.
Review of AREVA's DC application is likely to conclude in 2010. In early February, UniStar Nuclear Energy announced the engagement of a consortium between AREVA and Bechtel Power to begin initial development of the detailed design engineering that will form the basis for future U.S. EPR advanced nuclear power plants in the United States.
Constellation Energy and AREVA formed the original UniStar Nuclear venture in 2005 to market AREVA's EPR technology in the United States. In August 2007, Constellation Energy and Electricite de France (EDF) formed an additional joint venture, UniStar Nuclear Energy, to develop and deploy a fully standardized fleet of advanced nuclear power plants at selected sites throughout the U.S.
The EPR is the only reactor technology of the industry's Generation III+ design category currently under construction anywhere in the world. Safety- grade construction on the first AREVA EPR began in Finland in 2005. Construction on the second EPR began in 2007 in France. The EPR has begun the prelicensing phase in the United Kingdom. This application is AREVA's fourth licensing process for EPR reactor technology worldwide.
The fifth licensing process will occur in China, where a contract for two EPRs was signed in November as part of the biggest contract in the history of nuclear power.
AREVA's U.S. EPR is the first advanced reactor design or certification application that is entirely commercially funded and supported. AREVA demonstrated its confidence in nuclear energy and the U.S. market by investing more than $200 million to launch the U.S. EPR. Environmental benefits were an important objective of the EPR design and include optimizing the amount of land required for a plant of its electrical output, more efficient nuclear fuel consumption and other innovative features.
The NRC can certify a reactor design for up to 15 years. The NRC review will address the safety issues of an essentially complete nuclear power plant design, independent of a specific site.
The AREVA EPR is an evolutionary 1,600 MW net electrical output pressurized water reactor design based on proven technology. The EPR is the world's most advanced reactor design currently under construction. The EPR incorporates significant improvements in safety and economics over previous technologies, operating at a lower cost over the expected life of the plant and providing unparalleled safety margins for the 21st century.