JUST BEFORE THE TURN OF the year, on 18 December, UK energy regulator Ofgem granted an electricity generation licence to Bradwell Power Generation Co Ltd. The company is planning to build a new nuclear station at Bradwell on the UK’s Essex coast, near where one of the country’s first nuclear stations is in a ‘care and maintenance’ decommissioning phase. The licence was welcomed by Bradwell Power Generation chief executive Alan Raymant, who called it, “an important milestone on the journey to completing the Bradwell B project and demonstrates our continued progress”. But what may sound like the culmination of a process is in fact an early step, and Raymant admitted, “The generating licence is one of many licences and permits we will need in order to develop, construct and operate Bradwell B”. Support for the Bradwell project is mixed. The UK government generally acts on the assumption that nuclear will continue to supply around a fifth of electricity supply, as it has over the last two decades. But that is largely because it was thought that replacing this large tranche of zero-carbon power with renewables sources was too ambitious. The scale of the renewables roll-out has put that assumption under pressure in some quarters. The GDA process has been under way since January 2017 and in February 2020 it reached step four, the final step, which ONR describes as “Successful completion of the high-level technical assessment of the design”. ONR estimates that step 4 will be completed by the start of 2022. As part of this process, in January the Environment Agency opened a consultation on its assessment of the design. The EA’s role is to regulate “specific environmental matters at nuclear sites in England by issuing environmental permits to cover site preparation, construction, operation and decommissioning”. EA provides a statement about a design’s acceptability at the end of the GDA. During the GDA, it works by identifying concerns. So-called ‘GDA Issues’ are significant, but resolvable, and must be resolved before construction of the reactor starts and before GDA can be completed. ‘Assessment Findings’ are matters best resolved at the site- specific stage. In a consultation now under way EA has listed six potential GDA Issues and 40 Assessment Findings. The GDA Issues are: While operational experience is used to support safety case documentation, the Environment Agency and ONR have noted that it is not used consistently across the project. The Requesting Party has not addressed a Regulatory Observation about this. The Requesting Party has shown that it has considered the environmental aspects of the station design. However, it still has to demonstrate that it has adequately considered the safety aspects of the design. Where safety aspects are still under review the Requesting Party must ensure that environmental protection is given appropriate consideration. The Requesting Party has proposed using rectangular filters in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It must demonstrate that these are equivalent or better than cylindrical types, which are considered best practice in the UK. ONR/EA have not yet received design requirements for the spent fuel, which define the specifications for an interim store which will be used before the fuel is disposed of in a geological disposal facility. The Requesting Party has yet to confirm its strategy for disposing of the in-core instrument assemblies and that this will not affect disposal of the waste in-core instrument assemblies. The Requesting Party has still to get advice from Radioactive Waste Management Ltd on whether the higher activity waste from the UK HPR1000 will be able to be disposed of in the latter’s planned geological disposal facility. No date for submission of the final application to the Planning Inspectorate have been published by Bradwell Power Generation, but it is likely to be after 2022.
Nuclear Engineering International 29th April 2021 read more »