Regulating new nuclear power stations - 14 September 2018

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ONR - Environment Agency - Natural Resources Wales

Regulating new nuclear power stations

14 September 2018

Welcome to our new e-bulletin about our regulation of new nuclear power stations. The new e-bulletin will be issued on a regular basis. We will provide information about the way we regulate the nuclear industry in the UK and news on our current activity. We hope that you find this e-bulletin useful and we look forward to hearing your feedback about the content.

UK ABWR - Courtesy of EDF


Hinkley Point C

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) gave its permission for nuclear safety related construction to start at the site in March 2017 and continues to regulate the construction of two UK EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset; the licensee is NNB GenCo (HPC) Ltd.

The Environment Agency (EA) has Environment Officers based at the Hinkley Point C site, providing regulation and timely advice to the company during the construction of this nationally significant project. The site is located next to sensitive habitats which provide one of the most important focuses for the company and the EA’s work to protect the environment. The company continues to apply for environmental permits or changes to its existing permits for its construction activity on site. The EA’s permitting team is also dealing with an application for a sewage treatment plant for the site

Natural Resources Wales has published information about its marine licence to dispose of dredged material from the vicinity of Hinkley Point C, off the coast of south Wales.

Sizewell C

ONR is currently having a very low level of interaction with the Sizewell C project and providing NNB Genco (SZC) Ltd with appropriate advice in order to assist in development of its forward plans/programme.

The EA’s project team is also providing advice to the company as it further develops its forward work programme for development of the site.

UK HPR1000 - General Nuclear Systems

The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the UK HPR1000, which uses Chinese designed Hualong One technology, commenced in January 2017, General Nuclear System Ltd (GNS) was established to act on behalf of the three joint GDA requesting parties; China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN),EDF and General Nuclear International (GNI), to implement the GDA of the UK HPR1000. GNS set up a GDA website and published the UK HPR1000 Preliminary Safety Report that it provided to regulators for assessment. It also launched the “comments process” enabling anyone to ask questions about the design and have them answered.

Step 2 of the UK HPR1000 GDA, which is the first formal assessment step, began in November 2017. Our assessment is progressing well and we continue to target completing Step 2 during November 2018.

ONR published three regulatory observations (ROs) for the UK HPR1000 in August. ROs are potential regulatory shortfalls that we have identified. They include actions that GNS is required to address. We have also published the Resolution Plans from GNS. We will routinely publish ROs on our joint website during the GDA process.    

At the end of Step 2, as for all previous GDAs, we will be publishing reports on our assessment so far.

The UK HPR1000 design is proposed to be constructed at Bradwell-on-Sea, in Essex, by Bradwell B Power Co, adjacent to the existing Magnox power station which is currently being decommissioned. The project is at an early stage with current work primarily focusing on site investigations 

ONR’s UK HPR1000 assessment team has been engaging frequently with Bradwell B’s project and technical support teams, and has undertaken site visits to follow the progress and early results of the site geological characterisation works. These engagements have provided ONR with valuable information on the site characterisation works being undertaken.

The EA’s local project team is providing technical engagement and advice to the Bradwell B Power Co. site suitability investigations, including better understanding of the site’s local geology are being conducted by Bradwell B Power Co. The EA is satisfied that this work, including the geo-physical acoustic reflection surveys, will not harm existing flood defences nearby.

Earlier this year, EA and ONR staff visited the site to view the investigation work. EA took the opportunity to visit Mersea Island on the opposite bank of the Blackwater Estuary where they met with the Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG). Read more about the visit on the EA website.

UK ABWR - Horizon / Hitachi GE

The GDA for Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) was completed in December 2017, when ONR issued a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and EA and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) issued a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA).

Horizon Nuclear Power has submitted applications for four Environment Permits and a Marine License to NRW for its proposed development at Wylfa Newydd. NRW is currently consulting on these applications and drop-in events were held in mid-July with the consultation running for 10 weeks until 06 September 2018.

NRW received an application for a Radioactive Substances Regulations permit in October 2017, the determination for which is ongoing.

Horizon Nuclear Power has also submitted an application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate and several other planning applications to the Isle of Anglesey Council. As a statutory consultee, NRW will be providing detailed comments on these applications.

ONR is currently considering Horizon Nuclear Power’s site licence application, with a decision expected in 2019. More information on Wylfa Newydd can be found on the ONR website.

NuGEN - AP1000

Toshiba continues to seek a buyer for NuGen and the Moorside site. Whilst KEPCO, the South Korean power company, is still being considered as a potential buyer, the protracted timescales associated with the sale has given Toshiba the mandate to look at a number of other options for the site.

NuGen has taken the opportunity to revise its proposed layout of the Moorside site to give early indication of a move away from three AP1000 reactors to potentially two APR1400 reactors in its response to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on sites proposed to be included in the new Nuclear National Policy Statement (see General News below).

We await the outcome of the commercial negotiations and are ready to provide regulatory advice when requested by the government.

Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANTs)

As part of the Clean Growth Strategy, BEIS asked the regulators to provide support to its Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANT) programme including £7m made available to ONR and EA to build the capability and capacity needed to regulate innovative technology effectively. This support is highlighted in the Nuclear Sector Deal.

In response to BEIS’ request, ONR and EA have started working on ANT related activities including developing strategies and plans and establishing ANT project teams. The work currently being undertaken covers ANT training & knowledge management; a review of regulatory processes and guidance to ensure that they are fit for the purpose of assessing and regulating ANTs; engagement with Mature Technology Small Modular Reactor vendors; enhanced engagement with international regulators dealing with ANTs and provision of advice to BEIS’ Advanced Modular Reactor Programme.  

General News

The EA has published a scoping report about the technologies used to reduce the impact of large cooling water intakes on plants and animals living in the environment around nuclear power stations. This new study, Protection of biota from cooling water intakes at nuclear power stations, presents information and data about established and new engineering options ahead of a more detailed review to be published later this year. The information will be used to support the EA’s regulation and future decisions on environmental permits for new nuclear power stations.

ONR and EA have advised BEIS on the strategic siting criteria for a new nuclear National Policy Statement covering sites deploying in the period 2016 to 2035 (NNPS35). The government response to the consultation on the criteria was published on 20 July 2018 and invited potential developers to advise if they wish their existing sites to be included in NNPS35 and to provide the information required by the finalised strategic siting criteria.  Potential developers of all of the sites in the existing Nuclear National Policy Statement (except for Hinkley Point C) have confirmed that they seek their sites to be included in NNPS35 and submitted their nominations. ONR, EA, NRW and other regulators will be providing advice to BEIS as it develops its new policy statement.

A new charging booklet, produced by ONR, is now available. The booklet includes information on how ONR’s charging works, the end-to-end process and an explanation of costs.

The EA has now implemented its new charging scheme for regulatory permits and services. They consulted on proposals from 30 November 2017 to 26 January 2018.

ONR published its 2017/18 Annual Report in June 2018. More than 1,000 inspections were carried out during the year across 36 licensed sites and transport dutyholders, ensuring the required standards of safety and security were met to protect the public and workers. ONR granted permission for licensees and dutyholders to perform more than 30 nuclear-related activities, while five improvement notices were served and complied with.

Visit the Generic Design Assessment website

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