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Nuclear-Plant Analyses Ordered
Article also mentions that the interest in new plants is leading to heightened scrutiny of existing plants; a few licenses are at risk.The NRC has received applications for 15 new reactors, with many more expected. The revival is driven by concerns about growing power needs and global-warming emissions from power sources such as coal.
Why the additional scrutiny?Nearly half the U.S. fleet of 104 reactors faces license expirations from 2009 through 2015. No utility requesting a license extension has been refused to date, although the NRC sometimes attaches conditions to renewals.
One challenge concerned metal used in equipment near the reactor pressure vessel -- the heart of the nuclear plant -- and is subject to forces that can accelerate aging. The commission has identified metal fatigue as fundamental risk in aging plants.
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