Union calls for minimum UK content of new reactors

06 December 2007

A British trade union has called for the government to require all bidders for new nuclear power reactor contracts to source some 70-80% of the construction and manufacturing work from UK companies.

Unite - the largest manufacturing union in the UK, with over one million members in the public and private sectors - said in a letter to Business and Enterprise Secretary John Hutton that such a move would create more than 10,000 jobs.

The union noted that one of the potential bidders, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), had already said it will target 70% UK content in building new generation nuclear reactors in the UK. As a result of this commitment, Unite called for the government to allow AECL to proceed to the next phase of the pre-licensing process.

Four nuclear reactor vendors - Areva, Westinghouse, General Electric and AECL - met the UK government's 22 June deadline to submit details of their designs and industrial sponsors. Areva of France put forward its 1600MWe EPR pressurized water reactor (PWR). GE-Hitachi (GEH) submitted the 1550 MWe ESBWR boiling water reactor (BWR), while Westinghouse of the USA submitted the 1100 MWe AP1000 PWR. AECL filed its 1200 MWe ACR1000 pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR).

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) is conducting a preliminary assessment on the 'licensability' of the submitted designs, expected to be complete in late 2007 or early 2008. Three of the designs will then go forward for Generic Design Acceptance (GDA). The GDA process would take around three years.

Dougie Rooney, Unite National Officer for Energy, said, "Nuclear new build represents one of the most significant opportunities for British jobs and skills over the next decade and we want to make sure that the maximum benefit is received by the UK manufacturing and skills base."

Unite is also calling for the government to commit to a timeframe for the first new nuclear reactor being commissioned by 2017.

Further information


WNA's Nuclear Power in the United Kingdom information paper

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