Belfast Telegraph

Nuclear reactor approved for use in new power station

Regulators have approved a nuclear reactor planned to be used in a new power station, described as a "landmark moment" for the project.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said the so-called AP1000 reactor, designed by Westinghouse, was suitable for construction in the UK.

NuGen, the company behind the new power station scheme in Moorside, Cumbria, said the announcement continued its plans to deliver Europe's biggest new nuclear project.

Westinghouse, Toshiba's nuclear arm, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States following a series of losses, but NuGen has insisted that Toshiba remains committed to the project.

Toshiba has a 60% stake in NuGen.

NuGen chief executive, Tom Samson, welcomed the ONR announcement as a "major step forward" for Moorside.

"This news from the UK regulators is further acknowledgement and a testament to the robust safety features and design of the AP1000 reactor which we will deploy at Moorside.

"Moorside's three reactors will provide 7% of the UK's electricity needs from a low-carbon source.

"This project will be transformational for Cumbria, and the North of England and will offer unrivalled employment, skills and supply chain opportunities in line with the Government's work on industrial strategy."

Dr Richard Savage, ONR's chief nuclear inspector, said: "The closure of our assessment of the generic design of the AP1000 reactor is a significant step in the process, ensuring the design meets the very high standards of safety we expect.

"We will now focus our regulatory attention on site specific assessments, and NuGen's application for a nuclear site licence."

Dr Jo Nettleton, deputy director for radioactive substances and installations regulation at the Environment Agency, said: "Successfully completing GDA (generic design assessment) means that the AP1000 is capable of meeting the high standards of environment protection and waste management that we require.

"We're already working with NuGen, as it develops its proposals to build and operate three AP1000 reactors at Moorside in Cumbria, to ensure that those high standards are delivered."

The regulators required 51 GDA Issues to be resolved before confirming the suitability of the AP1000. All of the issues had been addressed to the regulators' satisfaction.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: "The design approval of the AP1000 is welcome news for the UK's new nuclear programme. This is the second reactor design to have successfully completed the approval process of the UK's independent regulator and to be licensed for use in the UK.

"The design approval process assesses the safety, security and environmental impact of the technology and today's announcement signals the conclusion of a thorough, rigorous and detailed process widely acknowledged as world class.

"Moorside will create 21,000 highly skilled jobs in West Cumbria over the lifetime of the project, and will generate 7% of our power needs for decades into the future with no carbon emissions.

"With two-thirds of our power stations closing between 2010 and 2030, this is an important step in providing that secure, reliable and low-carbon power for the future we will need."