Nuclear, News

Office for Nuclear Regulation and Environment Agency complete preparatory stage of Generic Design Assessment

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) have begun the second phase of their assessment of the reactor slated for use at the Bradwell B nuclear plant in Essex.

The regulators are conducting a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the UK HPR1000 reactor – the British version of China General Nuclear’s (CGN) Hualong One design – and have now completed the preparatory phase of the process.

A GDA application was submitted to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in October last year by General Nuclear Services (GNS) – a joint subsidiary of CGN and EDF. The reference plant for the design is the third unit at CGN’s Fangchenggang nuclear plant in China, which is currently under construction.

Mike Finnerty, deputy chief inspector and director of the new reactor division at the ONR, said: “The purpose of GDA is to determine whether the design meets the robust safety and security standards to make it suitable for use in the UK.

“I am satisfied that there are adequate project management and technical provisions in place to enter step two of the process and, as regulators, we can begin our technical assessment phase.”

Under a strategic investment decision signed in October 2015, CGN has partnered with EDF to develop nuclear plants at Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and Bradwell B.

The Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C projects will both use the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) developed by EDF and Areva, whilst the Bradwell B project will feature the HPR1000 reactor designed by CGN.

CGN and EDF have launched a website to enable people to ask questions about the HPR1000 reactor and give their feedback.

“We are pleased to reach this important step in the robust UK regulatory system and we welcome public feedback on proposals for this new UK reactor design,” said CGN UK managing director, Zhu Minhong.

EDF Energy nuclear new build managing director, Humphrey Cadoux-Hudson, said: “Reaching the next phase of the design approvals process for a new nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex is a significant step.

“We hope that local communities use the website we have launched today to find out more about our early plans and feedback their comments. Local consultation is central to developing our plans and this is one of many opportunities where people can get involved.”

The four-step GDA process involves the assessment of the safety, security and environmental aspects of new reactor designs before site-specific proposals are brought forward.

It is widely seen as a gold standard for nuclear regulation around the world and obtaining GDA approval for the HPR1000 reactor is understood to be a key motivation behind CGN’s decision to invest in nuclear plants in the UK.

GNS will also need to obtain a development consent order, site-licensing and environmental permits before it can start building Bradwell B.

The ONR and EA were instructed by BEIS to begin the GDA for the reactor in January.