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UK nuclear power stations get 'stress test'

05 October 2011

According to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (an agengy of the Health & Safety Executive), the UK’s nuclear power stations have started ‘stress tests’ as part of an agreement to test all such facilities across Europe. Following the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan, every nuclear power generating country in Europe has agreed to undertake relevant tests to an agreed timetable.

UK nuclear power stations get 'stress test'
UK nuclear power stations get 'stress test'

The tests, carried out by licensees, involve targeted reassessment of each station’s safety margins in the light of extreme natural events, such as earthquake and tsunami.

The national nuclear safety regulators – the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in the UK’s case – will then independently review the results of the tests.

Progress reports were required by mid-September, to confirm both that licensees of nuclear power stations had started the tests and that they were on schedule to complete them by 31 October. ONR’s review of the tests must be sent to Europe by 31 December.

John Donald of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said: "The UK progress report has been sent to Europe. It confirms that ‘stress tests’ have been initiated at all UK nuclear power stations, as required. To date, none of the stress test work by the licensees, or other work and reviews undertaken in the UK, has indicated any fundamental weaknesses in design and resilience at UK nuclear power plants, but, in line with the continuous improvement culture we adopt in this country, lessons are being learnt from Fukushima to improve safety."

Dr. Mike Weightman, the UK’s Chief Nuclear Inspector and Executive Head of ONR is writing a separate report on lessons learnt from Fukushima for the UK nuclear industry. He published his interim findings earlier this year, concluding that there was no need to curtail the operation of nuclear plants in the UK, but that lessons should be learnt.

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