Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Belgian plant defects: what it means for the UK

13 May, 2013

Inspectors from the Office for Nuclear Regulation have completed their assessment of a review at both Sizewell B and proposed new power station Hinkley Point C after defects were found at similar plants in Belgium.

In July 2012, inspections at the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear plants in Belgium revealed a number of defects in the reactor pressure vessels, which have some safety significance.

Since then, ONR has been monitoring the situation in Belgium and any possible implications for the UK. The only operating reactor in the UK with a steel reactor pressure vessel similar to those in Doel 3 and Tihange 2 is Sizewell B in Suffolk.

ONR asked Sizewell B to undertake a review of the site’s manufacturing and inspection records, which is now complete and available on the EDF Energy website.

ONR also asked NNB GenCo to consider the implications for its proposed twin pressurised water reactor site at Hinkley Point C. 

In its assessment, ONR concluded that the precautions taken during the manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel for Sizewell B has minimised the likelihood of similar defects to those in Belgium occurring at the Suffolk site. If any defects of the type seen at Doel 3 and Tihange 2 had occurred, these would have been detected and recorded.

For Hinkley Point C, ONR also judged that the NNB GenCo inspection techniques and procedures are adequate to detect and report defects of the type reported at the plants in Belgium.

You can read ONR’s assessment report here.