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UK regulators complete assessment of Chinese reactor technology proposed for Bradwell B nuclear plant

08 February 2022

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency have confirmed that the UK Hualong Pressurised Water Reactor (UK HPR1000) is suitable for construction in the UK, subject to the necessary licensing, planning permission and environmental permits, following completion of their in-depth assessment of the nuclear reactor design. The China General Nuclear Group (CGN) reactor design is set to be used at the proposed Bradwell B site in Essex.

Image: CGN
Image: CGN

The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for the UK HPR1000, which is based on the Hualong One power plant in China, was successfully completed on February 7 with the issuing of a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from ONR and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from the Environment Agency.

Both the ONR and the Environment Agency are satisfied that the reactor meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process, the regulators said in a statement.

China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and EDF submitted a joint application through their joint venture company GNSL (General Nuclear System Limited) to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in October 2016 to begin the GDA process for a UK version of the HPR1000. The application was accepted in January 2017, marking the start of the four-step GDA process.

The issuing of the GDA marks the end of a five-year process where the nuclear regulators have provided independent scrutiny of the proposed nuclear technology to ensure it meets the UK’s standards of safety, security, and environmental protection. The DAC and SoDA are confirmation that the design of the UK HPR1000 is acceptable for its intended construction, commissioning, operation and ultimate decommissioning, on a generic site in the UK.

Mark Foy, ONR’s Chief Nuclear Inspector, said: “The UK HPR1000 design has been assessed against the high levels of safety and security expected in the UK, and issuing the Design Acceptance Confirmation – after rigorous and detailed assessments undertaken by a wide range of my specialist inspectors – means we consider the UK HPR1000 design is suitable for deployment in the UK.”

In January 2021, the Environment Agency told CGN that it needed to resolve six safety issues before it could move ahead with its plans to build a new UK HPR1000 reactor at the proposed Bradwell B site in Essex. Among the issues were concerns over how the group would dispose of radioactive waste at the planned facility.

Now that the reactor design has received the appropriate GDA, CGN is likely to press ahead with its plans to construct and operate a nuclear power station using twin UK Hualong pressurised water reactors at its site near the existing Magnox power station site in Bradwell. CGN is also junior partner at EDF’s Hinkley Point C site in Somerset, south west England, and at the planned Suffolk plant in east England, Sizewell C. Both these sites will use a reactor designed by EDF.

A summary report is available on the ONR website here, along with all its detailed technical assessment reports.

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