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Nuclear reactor designs reach key milestone

Nuclear reactor designs reached a key milestone today with the publication of generic design assessment (GDA) issues by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and Environment Agency.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and Environment Agency have completed their initial assessment of the safety cases for the two proposed new reactor designs and have published all of the issues that still need resolving.

For both designs, the regulators are confident that industry can produce credible plans for resolving all of the issues, and, with the exception of those relating to the lessons learnt from Fukushima, they will be published on our website in the next few weeks. The plans relating to Fukushima should be available in the Autumn, after the Chief Inspector’s lessons learnt report is published.

This is a key milestone in the generic design assessment, but it is not the end of the process. Industry will need to resolve to the regulators’ satisfaction all of the outstanding issues before we will consider granting permission for any new reactor of that design to be built.

Reactor venders Westinghouse and Areva welcomed the report.

French firm Areva, who is constructing the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) for EDF at Hinkley Point, said this “marks the beginning of the close-out stage of GDA”.

“Our forward work plan initiated with the regulators is now focused on the successful resolution of the GDA Issues in order to obtain ONR Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and EA Statement of Design Acceptance (SoDA) for the UK EPR,” added the firm.

Areva and EDF remain committed to continuing work beyond the interim stage without interruption or diminution of resource until all issues are closed out.

Westinghouse, is produces the AP1000 reactor, has decided to pause with their resolution plans once they reach the point of interim DAC and SoDA, until a UK utility has chosen a technology. Westinghouse is currently competing with Areva for technology selection at Horizon’s proposed nuclear power plant in Wylfa, north Wales.

“We welcome the publication of this report as another major milestone on the way to successful conclusion of the GDA process,” said Westinghouse UK managing director Mike Tynan.

“We are committed to agreeing Resolution Plans with the regulators for each of these GDA Issues, so that interim Design Acceptance Confirmation and interim Statement of Design Acceptability can be issued by the end of 2011.

“We have already secured agreement with the regulators on the vast majority of the Resolution Plans, and weexpect to reach agreement very soon on all the remaining Plans, with the sole exception of the one which will arise from the final Weightman report in September into the events at Fukushima.”

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