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Two UK nuclear reactor plans receive interim acceptance

Generic designs for two nuclear reactors proposed for construction in the UK have been granted interim acceptance by the independent nuclear safety, security and environment regulators.

In a statement, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency confirmed they are satisfied with how the designers of EDF and Areva’s UK EPR and Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactors plan to resolve a number of remaining generic design assessment (GDA) issues.

In reports published today by the Office for Nuclear Regulation Kevin Allars, director for Nuclear New Build, stated that 51 GDA issues remain with the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor and 31 remain with the EDF and AREVA UK EPR reactor.

Neither reactor can be built in the UK until these issues — in areas including internal hazards, civil engineering, fault studies, fuel design and reactor chemistry — are resolved.

For both designs, the Office for Nuclear Regulation has issued interim Design Acceptance Confirmations (iDAC) and the Environment Agency has issued interim Statements of Design Acceptability (iSoDA).

Reports for each design summarising the basis of their decision, together with their technical assessments are available here.

They also published documents explaining how the designers plan to resolve issues identified in a report written by the UK’s chief inspector of nuclear installations, Mike Weightman, on the Fukushima accident.

In a statement Allars said: ‘We have reached an important milestone. This interim acceptance confirms that all the plans on how the industry will resolve the outstanding issues are in place.

‘This includes how they will address matters raised in the chief nuclear inspector’s report, published in October, on lessons learnt for the UK from Fukushima.

‘It is for the designers now to satisfy us that they have resolved these issues. We will not allow industry to build the reactors until they have done so.’

Joe McHugh, the Environment Agency head of nuclear regulation, added: ‘The assessment has been a challenging process involving more than 60 expert engineers, scientists and regulators but one that has enabled us to identify issues early on.

‘It means we are far better placed to ensure that any new reactors that are built in the UK meet high standards of safety, security and environmental protection.’

Readers' comments (22)

  • This is the worst news this country has had for a long time. I so wish French Nationalised Energy industries would take a running jump. I so hope they fail and don't get any funding. Perhaps we should build up an anti nuclear lobby similar to the one operating in France and Germany.

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  • Mr. Annett - And how do you propose we fill the Energy Gap as we loose 35% of the countries gernating capacity in the next 5-10 year, while consumption continues to grow?

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  • Fukushima may well derail the decision making around the next phase of UK station investment but it shouldn't. There isn't anything to match the carbon free power generation which we need. A fundemental examination of lessons learnt from Fukushima should however be part of any risk analysis. We should be wary around sourcing nuclear technology from countries such as France or Germany given their committment to leave the technology, as long term support issues could arise.

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  • Mrs Elliot - if the Germans, italians and Belgiums can do it so can we. We can lose one by saving fuel, another 2 by barrages and probably another 2 by a euro grid....have some courage.
    We are paying 72 billion to decommission our old ones...I do not want to fund the US and French to build another lot.

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  • The French have the financial and intelectual capital (including that within the former British Energy) to construct and operate safely a new generation of nuclear reactors. The culture of both the former BE and EDFbusinesses is well matched. Not a cheap option though, but then again cheap electricity is a thing of the past.

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  • If China and India, not forgetting Japan and others,are putting serious effort in Thorium reactor research one would think the government here -- and people like Chris Huhne in particular -- would have something to say on the subject.
    Sadly -- as ever in this country of ours -- politicians appear incapable of seeing beyond the current gimmick with specious 'green' credentials.
    The Humber estuary Neptune Proteus NP1000 project deserves serious support if we're talking about genuine green generation capacity. What do I hear from Mr Huhne on this topic? Dead silence to date.

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  • Mr Annett - I think you need to check the Nuclear New Build Policy, YOU will not be funding it. The Licenses to build new reactors are to be granted on the basis that the Owner / Opertors to foot the cost of decommissioning. I appreciate that current decommissioning costs are astonishingly large, but that is the fault of the the lack of foresight of our forefathers. Do not punish this and future generations with the potential of 'brown outs' by denying them access to what is essentially pretty clean energy. Furthermore, I have the courage to accept other possibilities of energy sources and strongly believe that renewables must make up a greater proportion of our energy MIX. I am just yet to see any evidence that they can provide continuity of supply, which is where nuclear can underpin the MIX going forward.

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  • 20 years to build a nuke station. 5 years to build gas or coal. We need new power in 2018 years, so the answer is....?
    If its Gas then are we happy to pay the prices that Russia wants to inflate it too?
    We have plenty of coal under our feet, its ours not a foreign country's, why don't we just get on and use it!!!

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  • The decomissioning costs are so large because nuclear relies on containment for safety, containment that may be needed for the next hundred thousand years or so, An astonishing legacy to leave for a few decades of "cheap" power. It's unfair to lay blame for "short sightedness" on good enthusiastic people who thought they were building a fantastic new future for us all. And as for those (and probably quite reluctant) people who knew all along that the UK nuclear programme was actually designed to produce fuel for weapons, I'll not comment.

    Nuclear has never been economic and never will be, there's too much engineering involved - there will always be a cheaper way than melting and shaping metal- with Energy technology, it's wear another jumper, with Travel , it's produce more locally, with Health, it's eat well and get plenty of exercise.

    It's about time engineers realised that Nature always got there first. the primary problem is not how to overcome Nature but how to live with her. In Energy terms that means a basic calorific intake, not a huge power station supplying what the body can supply for itself.

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  • Notwithstanding previous comments about lifestyle and the ludicrous energy obsession displayed by producers, re comment about " Thorium reactor research" I have to agree. The Plutonium legacy has to be tackled somehow, and this seems an intelligent route. but PLEASE lets see it for what it is, a waste disposal exercise, and not indulge ourselves in the fantasy that infinite energy is available to Man just by building a bigger machine. the off balance sheet costs are too high for all that.

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