Consultation launched on new nuclear power station design proposed for UK

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The Environment Agency seeks views on a new nuclear power station design as it publishes its assessment so far of the UK Hualong Pressurised water Reactor (UK HPR1000).

The UK HPR1000 is based on the Hualong one power plant, which is designed by China General Nuclear Group.

Alongside the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the Environment Agency assesses the acceptability of new nuclear power station designs in a process called Generic Design Assessment (GDA), which helps ensure that any new nuclear power stations built in the UK meet the standards of safety, security, environmental protection and waste management.

Alan McGoff, New Reactors Programme Manager at the Environment Agency, commented: “We have been scrutinising this design since 2017 and have identified six potential issues and 40 assessment findings.

“We expect that General Nuclear System Limited will continue to work to resolve them over the next year or so of the GDA process.

“Our consultation sets out our findings so far, including the potential issues to be resolved.

“We’ll be carefully considering all of the consultation responses we receive and can use these to help inform our assessments.

“Only if we are satisfied that all the issues have been addressed would we consider issuing a full statement of design acceptability.

“If the issues are not resolved or new issues are identified but not resolved, then we would consider only issuing an interim statement of design acceptability. Our aim is to complete our detailed assessment of the design in early 2022.”

General Nuclear System Limited, acting for China General Nuclear Group and EDF SA, began submitting the UK HPR1000 design to both the Environment Agency and ONR for GDA in September 2017.

This followed a request from the government to regulators to begin a GDA of the design.

An example 3D model of the UK HPR1000 (Image by China General Nuclear)

Bradwell Power Generation Company Limited, a joint subsidiary of China General Nuclear Group and EDF, is proposing to construct and operate a nuclear power station using twin UK HPR1000s at its site near the existing Magnox power station site at Bradwell in Essex.

The company would need to obtain all relevant permissions before the development could proceed.

The Environment Agency has found that many of the environmental aspects of the design would be acceptable, but has also set out six potential issues to be addressed before it would consider issuing a full statement of design acceptability for the UK HPR1000.

The potential GDA issues identified by the Agency include how operational experience is used to inform and improve the design, ensuring coordination of response to safety and environment protection assessments, optimisation of design of high efficiency particulate air filters and confirming that higher activity radioactive wastes created during operation and decommissioning will be capable of being disposed of.

A consultation seeking views on the environmental assessment of General Nuclear System Limited’s UK HPR1000 nuclear power station design is open until 11.45pm on 4 April 2021.

More information about this consultation is available on the Environment Agency website.