Sizewell B cleared for continued operation

04 February 2015

The UK's only operating pressurized water reactor - Sizewell B - will be able to continue generating electricity until 2025 after the UK nuclear regulator approved the plant's latest periodic safety review.

Sizewell B - 460 (EDF Energy)
Sizewell B (Image: EDF Energy)

Nuclear power plants in the UK are required to undergo a Periodic Safety Review (PSR) every ten years. The review looks back at the operation of the plant over the past decade and considers processes to manage safe operation for the next ten years. The review also looks at the experiences of other nuclear power plants around the world to see if lessons can be learned.

Following an assessment of the PSR of the safety case for Sizewell B, the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said on 28 January that EDF Energy had demonstrated that the plant, which began operating in 1995, can continue to operate safely until 2025.

Interim head for ONR

Les Philpott, currently deputy chief executive of the ONR, has been appointed as an interim CEO from 1 March.

He will succeed John Jenkins, who took up the position in June 2012 when the ONR was an internal agency of the UK's Health and Safety Executive. Jenkins has announced that he is leaving the post a year after having successfully set up the ONR as a separate public corporation.

The ONR said it will start recruiting for a permanent successor shortly.

The ONR said, "Although the PSR is not complete until an agreed program of work has been delivered, the ONR has identified no issues of nuclear safety significance that could impact generation at Sizewell B to the next date of review (2025)." However, it noted that it had "identified a number of areas for improvement for the licensee and will monitor its progress in completing the work."

The ONR said that its assessment of Sizewell B's PSR will be published "in due course."

EDF Energy said, "The PSR highlighted opportunities for improvement which will be programmed into the station's enhancement plans. This work will be part of the maintenance tasks carried out every 18 months when the station is brought offline to refuel."

Sizewell B director Jim Crawford said, "It takes five years of planning and 200 people from within and outside the business to scrutinize every area of Sizewell B to ensure it meets current standards of operation. The team working on the project include experts from around the world to check the processes and operations at the plant. No stone is left unturned."

EDF Energy said that the Sizewell B plant is already working on the case for the next ten years to ensure operation to at least 2035, its current stated lifetime. It noted that two years ago the company "expressed its aim to extend its life for 20 years beyond that to 2055."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News