First step of UK design assessments

18 March 2008

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Environment Agency have announced that the first step of the generic design assessment carried out on four reactor designs found no shortfalls at this stage.

The four designs were: AECL’s ACR-1000; EdF/Areva’s EPR; General Electric/Hitachi’s ESBWR; and Westinghouse’s AP-1000.

The new build design assessment covered safety, security and the environment, with the verdict based on claims made by the vendors of the designs.

The HSE has published a series of reports on its web site to publicise the findings so far.

Joe McHugh, head of radioactive substances regulation at the Environment Agency, which regulates in England and Wales, said: “As we begin the detailed assessment step of generic design assessment, 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.”

The UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) is awaiting confirmation from all of the design companies that they want to continue to the next stage of the assessment.

If the department decides it should undertake a prioritisation process, the secretary of state will make recommendations to HSE and the Environment Agency on the designs to be given priority in the next stage of the assessment.

At the end of the process, which is likely to take around three-and-a-half years from start to finish, the regulators will make statements setting out their conclusions about the acceptability of the designs.

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