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Interim approval for nuclear designs

15 Dec 11 EDF Energy and Areva have welcomed the interim approvals granted by the authorities for their EPR pressurised water reactor.

The Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has issued an interim design acceptance confirmation, and the Environment Agency an interim statement of design acceptability, as required as part of the planning process.

EDF described it as a major step forward for the construction of the next generation of nuclear power plants.

Full approval depends on EDF and Areva taking on board industry recommendations in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The companies welcome the ONR’s conclusion that: “We are largely satisfied with the design and safety cases” and “a major milestone has been achieved in that we have reached the end of our planned assessment”.

From the Environment Agency came the conclusion: “We are content with the environmental aspects of the design, that it should meet the high standards we expect.”

All areas requiring final resolution have been identified and detailed plans to address them to the satisfaction of ONR have been agreed. Additionally, the companies have agreed a plan for new issues that have been identified as a result of the events at Fukushima.          

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The companies welcome the ONR’s indication that final design acceptance confirmation should be issued provided the companies’ resolution plans for outstanding issues are delivered.

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said: “This is very good news for the EPR [European Pressurised Reactor] and for UK new nuclear build. It is a major milestone which follows a detailed four-year review by one of the most rigorous independent nuclear safety authorities in the world. We are conscious that there is still a lot to do to achieve final certification, and we will do it.

“All this is important for new nuclear build and its legacy of clean, secure and affordable energy, as well as the jobs and economic boost our project is now delivering.”

Areva UK chairman Alain-Pierre Raynaud agreed: “This is a very important moment. After four years of the most detailed and careful examination of the EPR design by the UK regulators, they have concluded that they are largely satisfied with both the design and the safety case of the EPR and are prepared to issue an interim design acceptance confirmation for the UK.

“We have already closed out a number of the outstanding issues and look forward to satisfying the regulators on any remaining questions, including those raised by Fukushima. This will open the way to construction of the first EPR in the UK and all the benefits our low carbon technology will bring in terms of employment and assured energy supply.”

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