Building New Nuclear: the Challenges Ahead

Supplementary written evidence submitted by Derek Lacey, Office for Nuclear Regulation (NUC 09a)

At the inquiry session on Tuesday 6 November, Andy Hall gave a commitment to write to the Committee on two points raised by Barry Gardiner MP. I am writing to the Committee with this information.

The points Mr Gardiner raised related to statements made by the European Commission in its recent Communication [1] following completion of the EU stress test process. The statements were that, in many instances, global standards arising from Chernobyl and Three Mile Island had still not been implemented and that 25 billion Euros worth of safety upgrades were needed for nuclear power plants across the EU.

Although these claims were made by the Commission in response to the stress test work, they are not part of the stress test findings. In addition, they have not been discussed or endorsed by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), which designed the stress test process and oversaw its implementation. Following publication of the Commission’s Communication ENSREG took the unusual step of issuing a public statement [2] expressing its concerns over the accuracy of the Communication prior to publication.

In relation to Mr Gardiner’s specific points:

a) There are no references in the ENSREG reports to international recommendations being agreed for the safety of reactor units following Chernobyl and Three Mile Island. I can confirm that, following Chernobyl, the IAEA Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) was agreed, which established a framework for setting international benchmarks to maintain high levels of nuclear safety, but this is not prescriptive and individual nations aim to achieve the safety benefits in different ways. Indeed, following both accidents, individual nations did undertake their own safety reviews, invested in improvements and attended international meetings to share the lessons learned.

b) The Commission’s Communication states that the total costs of implementing the additional safety improvements across all EU reactors could be in the order of €10–25 billion. However, neither ENSREG nor national regulators were consulted on these estimates and we cannot therefore comment on their veracity.

The Committee may wish to contact the Energy Commissioner for any further information it may require on the specific statements made in the Commission’s Communication.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Derek Lacey

November 2012

[1] Communication from the Commission to the council and the European Parliament on the comprehensive risk and safety assessments ("stress tests") of nuclear power plants in the European Union and related activities”, 4 th October 2012, COM(2012) 571 final.


Prepared 23rd November 2012