Office for Nuclear Regulation

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UK regulators confirm acceptance of new nuclear reactor design

UK regulators confirm acceptance of new nuclear reactor design

The UK EPR nuclear reactor is suitable for construction in the UK, regulators confirmed today after an in-depth assessment of its generic design.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency are satisfied that this reactor, designed by EDF Energy and Areva, meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental impact.

Additional site-specific consents and approvals are required from the regulators before this reactor can be built at any UK location and planning permission must be obtained from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Colin Patchett, acting chief inspector of nuclear installations, Office for Nuclear Regulation, said:

“We are satisfied that this reactor is suitable for construction in the UK. It is a significant step and ensures that this reactor meets the high standards that we insist upon. We have been able to identify significant issues while the designs are on the drawing board.

“There remain site-specific issues that must be addressed before we’ll approve its construction on any site.

“This new approach to regulation has proved to be a success. We have done what we set out to do and our assessment has been effective, ensuring the protection of people and society from the hazards of the nuclear industry.”

Joe McHugh, head of radioactive substances regulation, Environment Agency, said:

“We set out with ONR to rigorously, and transparently, assess whether this new reactor design, the UK EPR, would be acceptable for use in England and Wales. Through robust scrutiny we are satisfied that this design can meet the high standards of safety, security, environmental protection and waste management that we and ONR require.”

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has today issued a Design Acceptance Confirmation and the Environment Agency a Statement of Design Acceptability for the UK EPR design. These, as well as other related documents, including ONR’s summary assessment report and the Environment Agency’s supplementary report, are now online.

Generic Design Assessment (GDA) in numbers

The GDA process has been a five-year programme covering 17 technical areas, from Civil Engineering to Reactor Chemistry.

It is a challenging project costing in the region of £35m per design (this cost in full is charged back to the reactor design companies). 

Today we have published several documents on the GDA website relating to the UK EPR reactor design. This includes assessment and summary reports on the design and a copy of the Design Acceptance Confirmation (Office for Nuclear Regulation) and the Statement of Design Acceptability (Environment Agency).

More consents and approvals will be required at the site level, from Government and agencies including ONR and the Environment Agency, before construction can begin. The nuclear regulators will not allow nuclear safety-related construction to begin until they are satisfied that those design features that are site specific and any relevant changes to the generic design have been adequately addressed.

With a team peaking at more than 60 people we have:

  • Completed nearly 27,000 days of assessment time
  • Assessed thousands of technical documents and attended more than 600 technical meetings
  • Placed in the region of 150 contracts to more than 25 technical support contracts at a total cost of £8.5m
  • Asked and had answered thousands of technical questions
  • Produced and published more than 100 documents

GDA has also been open and transparent.  We have:

  • Asked the reactor design companies to publish their reactor design safety cases and environmental reports and invite comments on them
  • Committed to publishing all GDA guidance and technical reports
  • Published Quarterly update reports since January 2009
  • Issued regular e-bulletins (11,000 subscribers)
  • Attracted an average 5,000 website visitors per month
  • Attended and presented at numerous events