Stress test progress report

The UK’s nuclear power stations have all started ‘stress tests’ as part of an agreement to test all such facilities across Europe, the Office for Nuclear Regulation confirms today. 

Following the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan, every nuclear power generating country in Europe agreed in May to undertake relevant tests to an agreed timetable. 

The tests, carried out by licensees, involve targeted reassessment of each station’s safety margins in the light of extreme natural events, such as earthquake and tsunami. 

The national nuclear safety regulators – the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in the UK’s case – will then independently review the results of the tests. 

Progress reports were required by 15 September, to confirm both that licensees of nuclear power stations had started the tests and that they were on schedule to complete them by 31 October. ONR’s review of the tests must be sent to Europe by 31 December. 

John Donald, of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said: “The UK progress report has been sent to Europe this morning and is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/nuclear/news/2011/sep-stress-test.htm. It confirms that ‘stress tests’ have been initiated at all UK nuclear power stations, as required. 

“To date, none of the stress test work by the licensees, or other work and reviews undertaken in the UK, has indicated any fundamental weaknesses in design and resilience at UK nuclear power plants – but, in line with the continuous improvement culture we adopt in this country, lessons are being learnt from Fukushima to improve safety.” 

Mike Weightman, the UK’s chief nuclear inspector and executive head of ONR is writing a separate report on lessons learnt from Fukushima for the UK nuclear industry. He published his interim findings on 18 May, concluding there was no need to curtail the operation of nuclear plants in the UK, but that lessons should be learnt. Dr Weightman remains on target to deliver his full report to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change during September.

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