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No showstoppers for UK nuke approval

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Regulators expect to approve two reactor designs by June, they disclosed in their latest quarterly update on the UK nuclear industry. The Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency say they see no showstopper delays to the approval of the proposed designs – from Areva and Westinghouse – in their joint Generic Design Assessment, which was published yesterday.

Toshiba-owned Westinghouse is proposing the AP1000, while a joint proposal from Areva and EDF is backing Areva's EPR reactor. Six of the latter, a pressurised-water reactor, are already in construction in Finland, China and France. The first of these is four years behind schedule and some $3bn over budget; the UK wants to avoid similar delays.

Westinghouse has modified the design in response to some safety concerns, the Assessment notes. The regulators also asked for software validation and computer modelling of the concrete island structures on which the reactors stand. They also want better documentation for the islands. Full details can be found here.

Both applicants pay the cost of the assessment process, some £15m each to date.

Unlike some low-carbon energy sources, nuclear reactors continue to work when the wind isn't blowing – a remarkable breakthrough. ®

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