Nuclear plant design meets environmental expectations

A design for the UK's first nuclear reactor in 25 years has received approval and is suitable for construction, says the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

The ONR and the Environment Agency (EA) agreed that the reactor, designed by EDF Energy and Areva, meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental impact.

The approval is a step forward for the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

However, additional site-specific consents and approvals are required from the regulators before the reactor can be built in the UK and planning permission must be obtained from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Acting chief inspector of nuclear installations at the ONR, Colin Patchett, said: “We are satisfied that this reactor is suitable for construction in the UK.

“It is a significant step and ensures that this reactor meets the high standards that we insist upon. We have been able to identify significant issues while the designs are on the drawing board.

“This new approach to regulation has proved to be a success. We have done what we set out to do and our assessment has been effective, ensuring the protection of people and society from the hazards of the nuclear industry.”

Artist impression of the Hinkley Point site in Somerset Courtesy of EDF Energy

EA’s head of radioactive substances regulation, Joe McHugh, said: “We set out with ONR to rigorously, and transparently, assess whether this new reactor design, the UK EPR, would be acceptable for use in England and Wales.

“Through robust scrutiny we are satisfied that this design can meet the high standards of safety, security, environmental protection and waste management that we and ONR require,” he added.

Leigh Stringer

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