Select Committee on Trade and Industry Written Evidence


Annex B

HSE INITIATIVES IN PREPARATION FOR POSSIBLE NEW NUCLEAR BUILD

INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY (IAEA) INTEGRATED REGULATORY REVIEW SERVICE (IRRS) MISSION TO THE NUCLEAR SAFETY DIRECTORATE (NSD)

  1.  At HSE's request (via the DTI as the formal interface with IAEA), the IAEA has completed a review of the basis for HSE/NII's appraisal of reactor designs in advance of any specific proposals for new nuclear build. The review was conducted by the Agency's International Regulatory Review Service—a peer review facility of international experts experienced in the areas subject to evaluation. The terms of reference for the HSE/NII review were to:

    —  review HSE's readiness to regulate and license any new reactordesigns (in advance of any specific proposals for new build);

    —  identify areas for enhancement to the UK nuclear safety regulatoryregime through exchange of experience with the IAEA experts.

  2.  HSE/NII has not made a detailed study of a novel reactor design since its assessment of the application for Sizewell B in the early 1980s. The IAEA review will inform HSE's own assessment of its preparedness (eg in respect of technical expertise, procedures and resources) for prelicensing of new reactor designs, should this be required.

  3.  The IAEA team's conclusions are positive: the team identified a number of examples of existing good practice and noted, as particular strengths, the mature and transparent nuclear regulatory system (and its particular suitability for international designs, being non-prescriptive) and HSE's highly trained, expert and experienced staff.

  4.  The team has said that, in order to meet any new build demand, HSE/NII would have to be resourced accordingly. The report also makes recommendations for further improvement, highlighting as priorities:

    —  Define the minimum resource requirements in relation to key NII business activities and the allocation needed for additional activities;

    —  Supplement assessment capability in specific areas;

    —  Clarify the licensing and permissioning process for the potential applicants for any new build;

    —  Improve the use of operational experience feedback; and

    —  Continue development of internal procedures.

  5.  The recommendations relevant to possible new build are listed in Annex D.

REVISION OF SAFETY ASSESSMENT PRINCIPLES—SAPS

  6.  HSE is revising its nuclear safety SAPs, which provide an explanation of the way in which HSE judges the adequacy of a nuclear plant or facility. The review has included benchmarking against both the most recent IAEA safety standards and harmonisation work led by the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association. The draft new SAPs have been published on HSE's website for public comment and include an explanation of how the SAPs would be used to assess new reactor designs. The IAEA Review (see above) noted that the SAPs would be a valuable "high quality" document.

REVIEW OF THE PRE-LICENSING PROCESS FOR POTENTIAL NEW BUILD OF NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS

  7.  Following a stakeholder workshop on 3 March, HSE/NII invited public comment on issues relevant to regulating the design of 'any new nuclear power stations.

  8.  The consultation document is set out on HSE's website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/energyreview/discussion.htm and attached at Annex C: it identifies a number of questions views which will inform HSE's expert report for the energy review.


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2006
Prepared 21 December 2006