The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) have today announced that they have completed their initial high level assessment of Hitachi-GE’s UK-ABWR nuclear power station design.
This is the first assessment step of the regulators’ Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for new nuclear power station designs proposed for the UK.
The regulators have not identified at this stage any fundamental safety, security or environmental issues that would mean that the UK ABWR is unacceptable for use in the UK.
The regulators’ findings have been published in a series of reports.
ONR’s conclusions, based on the information examined so far, include:
- Interactions with Hitachi-GE throughout Step 2 have been positive, and ONR generally considers Hitachi-GE to be responsive, determined to understand and meet UK regulatory expectations, and open to constructive challenge and engagement.
- Hitachi-GE has worked consistently hard throughout Step 2 to provide material that meets UK regulatory expectations.
- ONR have been able to highlight design modifications that will be required to enhance safety, which we consider a significant success so early in the process.
- There is a considerable amount of work to be undertaken by Hitachi-GE going forward, requiring significant capacity and capability across all of the topic areas for Hitachi-GE.
EA’s conclusions, based on the information examined so far, include:
- We are confident that Hitachi-GE has an appropriate management system in place to control the content and accuracy of the information it has provided for this stage of GDA.
- The radiation impact on people from a power station using the UK ABWR, if constructed, would be below relevant UK dose limits and constraints.
- We have not identified any matters at this stage that are obviously unacceptable.
- Further information is required to enable us to carry out a detailed assessment. We have advised Hitachi-GE of this and they have committed to provide further detail and have given us a timetable in which they will do this.
The assessment process can now move into its next more detailed stage. The regulators are targeting completing GDA of the UK ABWR in December 2017, subject to Hitachi-GE providing acceptable and timely submissions.
ONR and EA are working closely on GDA with Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the principal environmental regulator for nuclear sites in Wales. If the UK ABWR completes GDA successfully the regulators, ONR, EA and NRW, would use the work carried out in GDA to help inform any subsequent assessments for site specific proposals that use this reactor design – such as Horizon Nuclear Power’s proposed developments at Wylfa Newydd on Anglesey and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire. Before any site specific development could proceed the operator would have to secure all relevant permissions for the site including a Nuclear Site Licence and environmental permits.
At the regulators’ request Hitachi-GE have set up a comments process that enables people to see and comment on the submissions made to the regulators. Hitachi-GE will respond to relevant comments and questions that it receives. The regulators will also see the comments and questions submitted and the responses provided and can use these to help inform their work. The comments process is open throughout GDA until about four months before final decisions are made about the reactor design.