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UK Regulators OK Nuclear Reactor Design

Hitachi-GE's UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR) is suitable for construction in the UK, regulators have decided. The decision follows a mandatory Generic Design Assessment (GDA). The regulators said they were satisfied the reactor "meets regulatory expectations on safety, security and environmental protection at this stage of the regulatory process."

The decision was tempered, however, by news that layoffs are coming to Hitachi-GE Nuclear's Wilmington, N.C., facility. The cuts are part of a worldwide 12,000 job reduction announced earlier in December by General Electric's power division. Reduced global demand for steam power plants, including coal and nuclear designs, was cited by the company.

The GDA is a voluntary process for reactor vendors that applies to England and Wales, and is a policy rather than law. A reactor vendor has completed the GDA process when it receives a Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) from the nuclear regulator and a Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) from environmental regulators.

Hitachi's UK ABWR began the Generic Design Assessment process for its UK subsidiary Horizon Nuclear Power in April 2013. 

The ONR's chief nuclear inspector, Mark Foy, said: "The completion of the generic design assessment of the UK ABWR is a significant step in our regulation of the overall process to construct this type of reactor in the UK, ensuring that the generic design meets the highest standards of safety that we expect in this country."

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

Horizon Nuclear Power hopes to build two ABWR units at Wylfa Newydd site on the island of Anglesey in north Wales and start them up around 2025. The units would be the first commercial boiling water reactors in the UK. Horizon also plans two UK ABWR units for a site in Oldbury, Gloucestershire.


Caption: Schematic of two ABWR's planned for Wales. Credit: Horizon Nuclear Power

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