Regulating new nuclear power stations - 6 December 2018

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ONR - Environment Agency - Natural Resources Wales

Regulating new nuclear power stations

6 December 2018

Welcome to the latest edition of this e-bulletin covering our regulation of new nuclear power stations. It provides information about the way we regulate and current news. We hope that you find it useful and we would welcome your feedback on the content.

UK ABWR - Courtesy of EDF

UK EPR – NNB GenCo

Hinkley Point C

In November ONR provided NNB GenCo with consent to commence the unit 1 Nuclear Island concrete pour at Hinkley Point C (HPC).

The Nuclear Island will contain the unit 1 reactor building, the fuel building and the four electrical and safeguard divisions, on one common reinforced concrete base slab. This cross-shaped base slab is known as the common raft.

ONR’s inspectors will continue to regulate NNB GenCo, to ensure that the high standards of safety and security expected in the UK are maintained at HPC.

On 29 November ONR hosted a webinar covering the consent for the concrete pour. Mark Foy, Chief Nuclear Inspector (CNI) and Mike Finnerty, Deputy Chief Inspector and Director of ONR’s New Reactors division, spoke about the project’s history. This included an update on what has happened since ONR’s CNI themed inspection into HPC’s supply chain management arrangements, and ongoing involvement to ensure high standards of safety and security are maintained.

The Environment Agency (EA) has continued to provide regulation and timely advice to the company during the construction of HPC. The company continues to apply for environmental permits, or changes to its existing permits, for its 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.


UK EPR – NNB GenCo (SZC)

Sizewell C

EDF Energy recently announced a third round of consultation for Sizewell C.

EA is seeing increased interactions with EDF in relation to the Sizewell C project progressing in 2019.

The EA’s project team continues to provide advice to the company, as it develops its proposals for the site, and secures the information that will be required as part of its applications for environmental permits and a Development Consent Order (DCO).

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


UK HPR1000 - General Nuclear Systems

ONR and EA announced in November that they have completed the initial high level scrutiny of the UK HPR1000 reactor design.

Step 2 is the first assessment step of the regulators’ Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for new nuclear power station designs proposed for the UK, in the acceptability of safety, security and environment protection of the design is assessed. An initial preparatory step was completed in November 2017.

The regulators have not identified at this stage of the GDA process, any fundamental safety, security or environmental issues that would prevent the issue of a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA).

By way of background, China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), EDF Energy and General Nuclear International (GNI), referred to as the requesting parties, through their joint venture company General Nuclear System Ltd (GNS), wrote to ONR and EA requesting entry to the GDA process in October 2016. The UK government requested that the regulators begin the GDA in January 2017, following confirmation of GNS and the regulators’ readiness to commence the process.

The GDA has a number of steps, with the technical assessment becoming increasingly detailed as they progress. ONR and EA publish reports at the end of each step, which provide an update on the assessment and highlight any concerns or technical issues that have been raised.

The regulators’ assessments have been documented in a series of reports that have been published on the joint regulators’ GDA website.

ONR’s conclusions, based on the information examined so far, include:

  • Overall, the interactions with GNS throughout Step 2 of GDA have been constructive. GNS have worked consistently hard to ensure that UK regulatory expectations will be met
  • We have seen strong commitment from GNS to learn lessons from Steps 1 and 2 of the GDA and to improve their working arrangements
  • GNS and ONR have completed the preparatory work necessary to enable commencement of Step 3 of GDA
  • There is still a considerable amount of work that will need to be undertaken by GNS going forward in the GDA process, requiring significant resource across all of the topic areas for GNS

EA’s conclusions, based on the information examined so far, include:

  • GNS has an appropriate management system in place to control the content and accuracy of the information it provides for GDA
  • The annual impact of radiation from the UK HPR1000 on people is likely to be below the UK public radiological dose limit and the constraint for any new source
  • The submission made by GNS for step 2 assessment does not contain enough information for us to carry out a detailed assessment

Following the completion of this initial high-level technical assessment, the process will now move on to its next, more detailed, design assessment stage.

At the regulators’ request, GNS set up a comments process that enables people to see and comment on the submissions made to the regulators.  GNS responds to relevant comments and questions that it receives. The regulators also see the comments and questions submitted, as well as the responses provided and use these to help inform their work. The comments process is open throughout the GDA until about four months before the end of the assessment.

For more information, you can:

Bradwell

The UK HPR1000 design is proposed to be constructed at Bradwell-on-Sea, in Essex, by Bradwell Power Generation Company Ltd, adjacent to the existing Magnox power station which has just entered ‘care and maintenance’. The project is at an early stage with current work primarily focusing on site investigations.

During the autumn, ONR and EA’s project teams continued to engage and provide technical advice to Bradwell Power Generation Company.


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).

Work is ongoing with the determination of four Environment Permits and a Marine Licence application, which Horizon Nuclear Power submitted to Natural Resources Wales (NRW) in June 2018 for its proposed development at Wylfa Newydd. These include two construction phase permits, the construction drainage and the Marine Licence, and three permits for the operational phase, the management of nuclear waste, cooling water and combustion activities. Once NRW has progressed to a point of draft decision, it will initiate a further public consultation. 

Horizon Nuclear Power also submitted its application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate at the beginning of June 2018. The Planning Inspectorate then initiated its examination phase at the end of October 2018. As a statutory consultee, NRW has submitted a comprehensive representation and will be fully engaged in the forthcoming specific hearings in early 2019.

ONR continues to consider 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

On 8 November 2018 Toshiba announced its intention to withdraw from its proposed nuclear power plant construction project at Moorside. It also announced that it would take steps to wind up its subsidiary NuGeneration Limited (NuGen).

The announcement comes after 18 months of negotiations with a range of potential new owners. Toshiba has not been able to conclude those negotiations satisfactorily.  NuGen has retained a team to support the implementation of a winding-up process and will work with Toshiba and its other stakeholders.

Whilst NuGen will not be taking the project forward, the Moorside site in Cumbria remains a site designated by the UK government for nuclear new build. It is now for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, as the owner of the site, and the government to determine its future.

You can find the statement from NuGen here: Statement from NuGen.

The Environment Agency notes Toshiba’s decision, and is working with NuGen to ensure that high standards of environmental protection are maintained during the winding up process, and the associated transfer of the Moorside site to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. 

ONR will continue to liaise with NuGen during the winding-up process and the associated transfer to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Only a limited amount of regulatory resource had been deployed in relation to NuGen recently. This will now be diverted to other regulatory priorities within ONR.


Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANTs)

In response to BEIS’ request for regulators’ support in the Nuclear Sector Deal, ONR and EA are continuing to work on ANT related activities including developing strategies and plans and establishing ANT project teams.

EA attended BEIS’ first small nuclear reactor conference at the Manufacturing and Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry on 6 November.

At the event, Nuclear Energy Minister, Richard Harrington MP, highlighted the intention to open the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for small and advanced modular reactors in the new year, with registration for expressions of interest opening before the end of 2018. In preparation for this, BEIS and the regulators participated in a GDA workshop with industry stakeholders in November.

Both ONR and EA presented information, about the work being undertaken to ensure we are ready to regulate advanced nuclear technologies, at the Nuclear Institute’s Advanced Nuclear Technologies conference on 14 November. Ana Gomez-Cobo (ONR) and Alan McGoff (EA) discussed the regulators’ contribution to the government’s framework to support the development and deployment of ANTs and further improvements to the GDA process.

ONR has published a dedicated section on its website for ANTs.

Read more about the Nuclear Sector Deal.


Getting involved in the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process

We want you to understand what we are doing and why it is important. We've deliberately made the GDA process open and transparent and it includes a comments process.

The reactor design company is encouraged to publish detailed design information on its website and update it as new information becomes available. Anyone can view that information and comment on it. The design company is required to respond to questions and comments about their design. We are able to see both question and response so that we can consider them in our assessments. Comments can also be made to the Joint Programme Office.

We’ve updated our comments process document which describes the process in more detail.


Other regulatory news

Geological disposal

Through ONR and EA’s joint scrutiny work, we provide regulatory advice to Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) about implementing geological disposal.

We published our annual report in November. It explains what we examined and the main comments provided to RWM.

We have also assessed the 2016 generic Disposal System Safety Case (gDSSC) at the request of RWM, to provide scrutiny and advice on parts of its work ahead of any permit or licence application.



Visit the Generic Design Assessment website

Visit the Environment Agency at Gov.uk

Visit the Natural Resources Wales website

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