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ONR says Belgian nuclear plant defects will not impact UK reactors

12 June 2013

Inspectors from the Office for Nuclear Regulation have completed their assessment of a review at both Sizewell B and proposed new power station Hinkley Point C after defects were found at similar plants in Belgium. Inspections in 2012 at the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear plants revealed defects  in the reactor pressure vessels, which have some safety significance.

An artist's impression of the completed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
An artist's impression of the completed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station

Since then, ONR has been monitoring the situation in Belgium and any possible implications for the UK. The only operating reactor in the UK with a steel reactor pressure vessel similar to those in Doel 3 and Tihange 2 is Sizewell B in Suffolk.

ONR asked Sizewell B to undertake a review of the site’s manufacturing and inspection records, which is now complete and available on the EDF Energy website. ONR also asked NNB GenCo to consider the implications for its proposed twin pressurised water reactor site at Hinkley Point C. 

In its assessment, ONR concluded that the precautions taken during the manufacture of the reactor pressure vessel for Sizewell B had minimised the likelihood of similar defects to those in Belgium occurring at the Suffolk site. If any defects of the type seen at Doel 3 and Tihange 2 had occurred, these would have been detected and recorded.

For Hinkley Point C, ONR also judged that the NNB GenCo inspection techniques and procedures are adequate to detect and report defects of the type reported at the plants in Belgium.

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