Safety body announces plans to block all new reactors unless 'significant' design features are changed

Plans for a wave of new nuclear plants in the UK suffered a blow today as the Health and Safety Executive warned it would refuse to approve reactor designs unless safety flaws were addressed.

The latest report from the team carrying out the safety assessment comes a month after Building revealed the body had significant concerns over the pace at which Areva and Westinghouse were tackling design problems with the EPR and AP1000 reactors.

In it, the HSE says: “We have identified a significant number of issues with the safety features of the design that would first have to be progressed. If these are not progressed satisfactorily then we would not issue a design acceptance confirmation".

The report repeats the HSE’s worries about the lack of separation between the safety protection and control systems on Areva’s EPR, which has been selected for what is likely to be the first new plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

It says: “It is too early to say whether they can be resolved solely with additional safety case changes or whether they may result in design modifications being necessary.”

It also once again criticises Japanese-owned Westinghouse for a lack of detail in its submissions and gaps in its report on external hazards such as flooding.