South Africa Pebble Bed Modular reactor gets key regulatory approval

South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has given the go-ahead for the start of production of graphite feedstock for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) demonstration unit.

The lifting of the work stop order paves the way for the production of long-lead items. This includes the manufacture of the graphite feedstock material which will be machined to PBMR specification and will shape and support the reactor’s pebble bed core within the pressure vessel.

The construction of two 1250 MW Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors in Sanmen China are 67 days ahead of schedule.

First concrete – the official start of construction of a nuclear power plant – should be poured for Sanmen 1 in March 2009, with operation following in late 2013.

A component module factory specifically for AP1000 units has been established near Haiyang in Shandong province, where two other AP1000s are to be built. Pre-assembled modules could be transported from the Haiyang facility across China or even for export later on in China’s nuclear power program. A similar facility is planned in America to provide AP1000 modules to the USA as well as – potentially – the UK, South Africa and Turkey.