WASHINGTON, Aug. 3 — A partnership established to build nuclear reactors has ordered the heavy steel parts needed to make a reactor vessel, as well as other crucial components, apparently the first hardware order for a plant since the 1970’s.
The order, which an executive of the partnership said was worth “tens of millions of dollars,” was a major step toward actual construction after several years of speculation about a nuclear renaissance.
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The design is derived from the Westinghouse layout already in service, but with several changes. It is 1,600 megawatts, about a third larger than the largest reactor operating here. It has a double-walled containment building designed to withstand the crash of a large aircraft. It has four emergency core cooling systems, any one of which would be sufficient in an emergency, so that it can continue operating even if some of the systems are deactivated for maintenance and repair. And because of design changes, it has 47 percent fewer valves, 16 percent fewer pumps and 50 percent fewer tanks than a typical existing model.
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