HSE and Environment Agency await Mike Weightman assessment

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Environment Agency will not now publish their conclusions on the new UK reactor designs in June as previously planned. Their conclusions will be delayed until an assessment report by chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman is published in September.

The regulators announced that the companies proposing to design and build new nuclear reactors in the UK will consider any implications of the independent report into the lessons learned from the ongoing nuclear events in Japan.

Both the HSE and Environment Agency will continue jointly assessing designs for two nuclear reactors – Westinghouse’s AP1000 and EDF/AREVA’s EPR reactors. The reactors are proposed for construction as part of the new nuclear build programme.

In a joint statement, the HSE and Environment Agency said: “It is important that we take the necessary time to ensure that we learn any relevant lessons emerging from the events in Japan, and that the designers implement any improvements that may be required to the new reactor designs.

“Once those recommendations are known, the reactors’ designers can develop plans to address them. In the meantime, they will continue to work on the issues that we will have identified in our design assessment for new nuclear power stations.”

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said he welcomed the announcement by the HSE and Environment Agency. He added: “This is a sensible step which means the train remains on track taking account all of the work done so far. To learn lessons from Japan, there will be additional check points on the way, quite rightly, but the destination is unchanged and the progress continues.”