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.’