MITSUBISHI Heavy Industries Ltd, Asia's biggest maker of power equipment, filed an application seeking US regulatory approval for its nuclear power plant design.
The application for the US advanced pressurized water reactor, or APWR, was submitted at a ceremony yesterday at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's offices in Rockville, Maryland, agency spokesman Scott Burnell said.
Tokyo-based Mitsubishi is the fourth company to seek US approval for a new reactor design. France's Areva SA submitted its application last month, and General Electric Co is awaiting a decision on its application, submitted in August 2005. A reactor design by Westinghouse Electric, a subsidiary of Japan's Toshiba Corp, was approved in December 2005.
Companies have told US regulators they will submit applications through 2009 to build as many as 32 new reactors. The US has the world's largest fleet of operating reactors, with 104 units, Bloomberg News said.
Mitsubishi's application submittal was first reported in the January 3 edition of Japan's Nikkei newspaper.
The submission clears the way for companies seeking to build the reactor to go forward with their own applications. "If an applicant wants to reference the US APWR, they can technically do it now since we have the design in-house for the staff to look at," said Burnell.
Full certification by the commission will take at least three years, Burnell said. "Staff's schedule stretches into 2011 before we'd reach the end of the process," he said. "Depending on how things go, there could be a final design approval prior to 2011."
Once a design is certified "it is considered a settled matter" and the reactor design cannot be challenged when a company is seeking permission to build and operate it, Burnell said.
The Mitsubishi design would be capable of generating 1,700 megawatts of power, enough electricity for about 1.36 million typical US homes.
The application was more than 9,500 pages long.