UK regulator passes first phase of plan for Chinese-designed nuclear reactor

The UK regulator has moved one step closer to approving a Chinese-designed atomic reactor after completing the first phase of assessing the technology.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency announced today that they are progressing to the next phase of their assessment of a new nuclear reactor design for the UK. General Nuclear Services (GNS), an industrial partnership between French utility EDF and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), hope to use the design at a proposed nuclear station in Bradwell, Essex. CGN submitted a joint application to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in October last year. 

Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation said the Chinese HPR1000 reactor will now move to stage two of its generic design assessment - the formal process for approving a new reactor. Britain first gave the go-ahead in September 2016 to the $24bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project. 

Mike Finnerty, ONR’s deputy chief inspector and director of ONR’s New Reactors Division 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 2 of the process and, as regulators, we can begin our technical assessment phase.

GNS will also be launching a comments process which will allow people to submit comments and questions about the reactor design to the company for their response.

Steve Hardy, Environment Agency Nuclear Regulation group manager said: “In this GDA we’re assessing the environmental acceptability of a new reactor design from China, the UK HPR1000. We’ll identify any issues or concerns we have with the UK HPR1000 and work with GNS, CGN/EDF’s company bringing this reactor to the UK, to make sure it understands our expectations and delivers a design that meets them. We are beginning a process of robust scrutiny on which we will report our progress and findings. People can contribute to this work through the comments process that can be accessed from our websites.”

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