News Archive


UK regulators clear ABWR for next step

The third stage of the generic design assessment (GDA) for the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) is to begin in September after regulators completed their initial high-level assessment of the Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy reactor design without identifying any fundamental issues to prevent it from being built in the UK.

The regulatory bodies carrying out the GDA - the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) - have released a series of reports detailing their conclusions after the completion of the second stage of the four-step GDA process. After the first preparatory stage, step 2 saw the beginning of the technical assessment of the design, with the regulators focusing on understanding and assessing fundamental safety claims and the acceptability of the ABWR within the UK regulatory regime.

The regulators said that they have not, at this stage, identified any fundamental safety, security or environmental issues that would make the ABWR unacceptable for construction and operation in the UK.

Environmental regulators EA and NRW found that the annual radiation impact on people from an ABWR would be below relevant UK dose limits and constraints, and radioactive discharges would not exceed those of comparable power stations. However, the regulators have requested further information from Hitachi-GE to enable it to carry out a detailed assessment.

Nuclear regulator ONR is tasked with assessing the fundamental safety and security aspects of the design. The ONR praised its interactions with Hitachi-GE during the second step as positive, describing the company as "open to constructive challenge and engagement". The regulator has published 16 detailed technical reports from the step 2 assessments, and noted that it has already been able to highlight safety-enhancing design modifications that will be required. Identifying such modifications so early in the GDA process is a "significant success", according to the ONR, giving Hitachi-GE time to complete the analysis that will be required.

The GDA forms part of the approval process for new reactor projects in the UK, allowing regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs separately from applications to build them at specific sites. The third step of the process for the ABWR will begin in September, and the regulators are aiming to complete the GDA in December 2017, subject to submissions from Hitachi-GE. Welcoming the regulators' announcement, Hitachi Europe general manager for licensing Ken Sato signalled the company's commitment to that goal. "We look forward to providing further, increasingly detailed, submissions to the regulator throughout the coming months," he said.

Horizon Nuclear Power plans to build the first ABWRs at Wylfa, on the Welsh island of Anglesey, followed by a second plant at Oldbury, in south-western England. The company is scheduled to launch the first round of public consultations for the Wylfa plant in September, and chief operating officer Alan Raymant said the company remained "well on track for first power generation in the first half of the 2020s."

The ABWR design is already licensed in Japan and the USA. Four units have been built in Japan, and two are currently under construction in Taiwan.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News

Originally posted on on 28 August 2014, many thanks to WNN for permission to repost.