Regulatory justification for UK ABWR

11 December 2014

The construction and operation of Hitachi-GE's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) in the UK is justified, the country's Energy and Climate Change secretary Ed Davey has announced.

Davey said, "I have today laid before the House [of Commons] a draft statutory instrument containing my decision, as justifying authority under the Justification of Practices Involving Ionizing Radiation Regulations 2004, that the generation of electricity from the nuclear reactor design known as the UK ABWR is justified."

He noted that the decision document "sets out how I have considered responses to the public consultations carried out by my department, how I have assessed the benefit of the class or type of practice against the radiological health detriment it may cause, and how I have come to the decision that it is justified."

"The basis for my decision is that there is a clear need for the generation of electricity by the nuclear reactor design to which the decision relates, because of the contribution its deployment can make to the new nuclear program through increased security of energy supplies and reduced carbon emissions," Davey said. "The radiological detriment to health from this nuclear reactor design throughout its lifetime and the management of associated waste will be low compared to overall levels of radiation, and will be effectively controlled by the UK's robust and effective regulatory regime."

The draft statutory instrument will now be debated in both Houses of Parliament - the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

The justification process is a necessary step to meet the requirements of EU regulation to ensure that the benefits and detriments are properly evaluated before new nuclear plants can be constructed.

The UK's Department for Business and Enterprise and Regulatory Reform announced in March 2008 that it had invited the nuclear industry "to bring forward new reactor designs for a justification decision." Areva's EPR and Westinghouse's AP1000 have already received regulatory justification.

Hitachi-GE's ABWR is in the third and final stage of the generic design assessment (GDA), which forms part of the approval process for new reactor projects in the UK, allowing regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs separately from applications to build them at specific sites. The regulators aim to complete the GDA in December 2017, subject to submissions from Hitachi-GE.

Horizon Nuclear Power plans to build the first ABWRs at Wylfa, on the Welsh island of Anglesey, followed by a second plant at Oldbury, in south-western England.

The ABWR design is already licensed in Japan and the USA. Four units have been built in Japan, and two are currently under construction in Taiwan.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News