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Hitachi-GE nuclear reactor design assessment begins

The Ecologist

6th January 2014

The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency have begun assessing Hitachi-GE's boiling water nuclear reactor design.

The GDA for the ABWR is expected to take four years to complete.

In January 2013, UK regulators received a Government request to undertake a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of a new nuclear reactor design in the UK, Hitachi-GE's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor - the UK ABWR.

A year on, the regulators "consider that they should now begin their assessments and that there are adequate project management, technical and legal provisions in place."

Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd are planning to use the UK ABWR at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. If the reactor design passes the GDA it may also be used by any developer at any of the sites included in the Government's Nuclear National Policy Statement.

These include Bradwell (Essex), Hartlepool (Durham), Heysham (Lancashire), Hinkley Point (Somerset), Oldbury (South Gloucestershire), Sellafield (Cumbria), Sizewell (Suffolk) and Wylfa (Anglesey). 

In principle the design could also be used at the two EDF nuclear sites at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. However EDF has announced its intention to build the troubled EDF / AREVA European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) reactor design - despite the prodigious problems being experienced with the EPR at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France.

The purpose of the GDA system is to allow regulators to begin assessing the safety, security, environmental and waste implications of a new reactor design before site-specific proposals are brought forward. The GDA for the ABWR is expected to take four years to complete.

However critics say that the GDA system has already failed after it passed the EPR reactor design in spite of 724 unresolved concerns known as 'Assessment Findings'. This is set out on The Ecologist website in "Hinkley C: the Generic Design Assessment has failed".

Nuclear expert John Large commented: "The existence of such uncertainties together with the quite obvious incompleteness of the plant design and development, particularly in the generic safety critical areas of Fault Studies and Control & Instrumentation must have, surely, rendered the GDA process itself incomplete and inconclusive."



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