The Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants in Salem County, N.J., have passed a hurdle in their request for relicensing.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issused two final reports -- evaluating environmental impacts and safety. The reports concluded that there are no environmental impacts or "open" safety items that would preclude license renewal for another 20 years.
Original reactor operating licenses are for 40 years. The current ones for these sites expire in 2016 for the first unit at Salem, 202 for the second unit and 2026 for Hope Creek.
But relicensing is complicated and time-consuming, so the process has already begun.
As part of the evaluation, the NRC staff performs audits of reactor "aging management programs." Overall, the NRC said, "the result show that the applicant has identified actions that have been or will be taken to manage the effects of aging in the appropriate safety systems, structures and components of the plant."
The plants are owned by PSEG Nuclear.
The next step in the process is a review of the safety evaluation report on May 12 by the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, an independent body of experts that advises the NRC on nuclear safety issues. The meeting will be held at NRC headquarter in Rockville, Md., and will be open to the public.
The review process is expected to be completed in June.
The reports, which are hundreds of pages in length, will be available at the Salem Free Library in Salem, N.J.
More information about Hope Creek's application is available here.
More information about Salem's application is available here.