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Energy Northwest Nuclear Plant Nears Completion Of License Renewal

RICHLAND, Wash. – The Northwest’s only commercial nuclear reactor has received its final safety evaluation report from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. That’s an important milestone in the effort to re-license the reactor for an additional 20 years near Richland, Washington.

The federal license renewal looks at how plant managers intend to deal with aging infrastructure, plant parts that relate to safety and the environmental impacts of the facility. It’s a bit like testing your sight and hearing to renew your driver’s license to operate a car.

If granted, the new license would allow the plant to hum along for another 20 years beyond 2023.

Don Gregoire is with Energy Northwest which operates the Columbia Generating Station. “We spent the last two years responding to over 300 requests for information,” he says. “And this report summarizes that evaluation and those questions. We’ve addressed all their concerns.”

March 11 is the anniversary of the tsunami in Japan that led to a nuclear reactor catastrophe. The NRC is expected to mandate some new policies for the nation’s nuclear reactors including the Columbia Generating Station.

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