OSGE gets the general opinion of the President of the PAA on the GEH BWRX-300 technology23/05/2023, 16:17
The first general opinion in Poland has been issued by the President of the National Atomic Energy Agency (PAA) for the BWRX-300 SMR reactor. In the document received by ORLEN Synthos Green Energy (OSGE), the Polish nuclear authority states the correctness of the BWRX-300 design assumptions with nuclear safety requirements. The PAA opinion is an important element in the preparation of the complete GEH reactor design – works on the project are already underway in the United States.
The general opinion is a prelicensing process that determines whether the planned organizational and technical solutions meet the requirements of nuclear safety and radiological protection under Polish law. The opinion of the President of the PAA, issued on 23 May, concludes that the assumptions adopted in the design of the technology are correct and meet the requirements of the Atomic Law and selected regulations on the safety of nuclear facilities. The conclusions published by the PAA will be taken into account in the standard and detailed design process of the GE Hitachi (GEH) reactors that are going to be built in Poland.
“The general opinion received by OSGE concerning the BWRX-300 technology is an important first step on the road of licensing works necessary for the construction of GEH’s modular nuclear power plants in Poland. It should be noticed that following the technical collaboration agreement signed in Washington in March this year, a complete power plant design based on the BWRX-300 technology – including a nuclear island – is being developed in the U.S. The project will take into account all regulatory requirements and technical standards required by Polish law. For us, good and open cooperation with the PAA is one of the key factors determining the success of our project, so we would like to thank the entire PAA team for their substantive and professional cooperation during the months of work necessary to issue the general opinion”, says Rafał Kasprów, CEO of OSGE.
As part of the works on the opinion, the PAA analysed such aspects of the BWRX-300 technology as hazard identification and reactor protection against internal and external hazards, requirements for the reactor control room, safety containment systems and classification of safety systems, reactor core design requirements, electrical systems. Solutions for control and measurement apparatus, waste and nuclear fuel management systems have been also analysed. In total, OSGE submitted documentation covering thirteen areas of the BWRX-300 technology.
In its official statement, the PAA informs that “in the opinion, the President of the PAA indicated the technical assumptions of the BWRX-300 reactor technology in accordance with national nuclear safety requirements, which are derived from the Polish Atomic Law and related regulations. This includes the use of multiplied safety systems in the reactor design, which will operate independently, or the planned use of primary and secondary safety containment vessel“.
The PAA also stated that the assessment of some of the submitted documentation in terms of meeting the detailed requirements will be possible once the company provides detailed analyses. Among the more than a dozen areas of the BWRX-300 technology analysed, the PAA President identified one technical assumption that might require re-evaluation. However, it does not apply to the design of the reactor itself and, in OSGE’s view, the adaptation of the documentation is feasible.
“The BWRX-300 is the first SMR technology to have completed the General Opinion phase of the PAA’s rigorous pre-licensing process, an important step in the deployment of this technology in conjunction with OSGE,” said Sean Sexstone, Executive Vice President, Advanced Nuclear, GEH. “OSGE and GEH will continue dialogue with PAA to evaluate local requirements and look forward to the next steps of regulatory engagement.”
The technical documentation that OSGE submitted to the PAA is based on documentation prepared by the technology supplier, GE Hitachi, for the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) as part of the VDR (Vendor Design Review) Phase 1 and Phase 2 process – a pre-license technology review. The CNSC issued a positive decision in March this year, making the BWRX-300 the first SMR to complete such a process in Canada. The licensing process is being conducted in Canada due to the fact that the world’s first BWRX-300 reactor is currently under development there. GEH SMR is being built at the existing Darlington nuclear power plant near Toronto. Late last year Ontario Power Generation (OPG) applied for a construction license, while a construction agreement was signed in January this year – OPG has partnered with GEH, SNC-Lavalin and Aecon to construct North America’s first SMR.
The project being developed near Toronto is the reference project for the first SMR in Poland, and OSGE is working closely with OPG. Therefore, in the context of the cooperation, as well as the further licensing process of the GEH technology in Poland, it is important that on 13 February 2023, the PAA and the CNSC signed an agreement extending the existing regulatory cooperation. The signed memorandum concerns joint activities in the field of small modular reactors, such as the BWRX-300. Polish and Canadian supervision authorities will exchange information on best practices and technical reviews in the field of this technology. The parties also agreed to share the results of independent analyses and assessments conducted as part of the licensing process. The memorandum also provides for joint actions in the above-mentioned areas and in the field of training and development of regulatory solutions to ensure the safety of this technology. The feedback received from the PAA will allow OSGE to efficiently prepare the reactor design being developed on the basis of cooperation with U.S. and Canadian partners. In March, three companies including Synthos Green Energy, an OSGE shareholder, announced a financial investment to support GEH in the development of technology and the preparation of the design of a nuclear power plant with the BWRX-300. The agreement has been signed in Washington, D.C, by Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), OPG and GEH, and it will accelerate the works on a design including taking into account European and Polish standards and norms and – as a result – an earlier start of construction works on Poland’s first SMR. In addition, the design will be applicable to more OSGE investments and will significantly improve the entire process as well as reduce the costs of the BWRX-300 fleet.