New generation of nuclear passes first hurdle
The designs put forward for the UK's next generation of nuclear reactors meet all environmental, safety and security requirements.This is the conclusion of the coterie of consultees drafted in by Government to assess the merits of competing designs.
The Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and nuclear regulators have been asked to carry out a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the four potential designs put forward by private contractors.
Based on the claims made in the submissions of those companies, all four satisfy the initial criteria.
The strength of these claims will be assessed at a later stage in the approval process but environmental performance is considered from an early stage.
The four reactors put forward for approval are designed by EdF/Areva, AECL, General Electric/Hitatchi and Westinghouse.
Joe McHugh, head of radioactive substances regulation at the Environment Agency said: "We demand that any new nuclear power stations meet high standards of safety, security and environment protection.
"As we begin the detailed assessment step of GDA, the reactor vendors and the regulators have much work to do before we will be able to decide whether these designs can meet those high standards.
"We hope that the public will continue to take the opportunity to contribute to our assessments by providing their comments on the designs."
At the end of the GDA process - which is likely to take around three and a half years - regulators will make statements setting out their conclusions about the acceptability of the designs.
Dr Mike Weightman, head of the HSE's nuclear directorate, and HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations said: "Our job...is to protect people and society from the hazards presented by the nuclear industry.
"As new nuclear power stations are being considered for the UK, it is vital for regulators to get involved with potential designs at the earliest stage - where regulatory assessments can have most influence - so that we can ensure that the existing high standards of nuclear safety and security in the UK are being maintained and improved."
The nuclear regulators have published a series of reports on their findings so far which can be viewed at http://www.hse.gov.uk/newreactors
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