UK regulators gear up for ABWR review

11 April 2013

Regulators in the UK have officially started preparing for the generic design assessment of the Hitachi-GE Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), which Horizon nuclear power is proposing to build at sites in Wylfa and Oldbury.

On 9 April, the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the Environment Agency and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy (Hitachi-GE) announced that a formal charging agreement and regulatory nuclear interface protoco had been signed. The documents "make clear that all costs for assessing the design will be charged to Hitachi-GE and will ensure formal arrangements for engagement," ONR said.

The regulator said that the next stage in the process is for Hitachi-GE to submit documentation for assessment, which is expected in autumn 2013.

ONR and the Environment Agency will now begin formal preparatory work with Hitachi-GE about the timescales and resources involved in assessing this new design.

"GDA is a long-term and rigorous process, which will ultimately determine whether the regulators will consider the ABWR suitable for construction in the UK," said Alan Raymant, Horizon Chief Operating Officer.

In December 2012, UK regulators completed a generic design assessment of the EDF/AREVA EPR reactor, which started in 2007. That process, it said, shows that the "appropriate model" is in place to carry out such work. A GDA of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, also began in 2007, but was suspended last year at Westinghouse's request, as it wishes to secure a UK customer before addressing issues raised during the process.

Horizon's programme involves plans to build two to three 1300 MW-class ABWR-based nuclear power plants at each site (Oldbury and Wylfa), with the first units scheduled to come online in the first half of the 2020s.

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