LONDON Aug 14 Britain's nuclear regulator said
it may resolve by the end of the year all outstanding issues
regarding the proposed operation of EDF's and Areva's
new-generation European Pressurised Water Reactor
(EPR) in Britain.
The French companies, together with junior partner Centrica
, plan to build four EPRs in Britain, the first of which
would be located at Hinkley Point in Somerset, England.
The Office for Nuclear Regulation is in the process of
licensing the EPR design for operation in the UK, a thorough
review also known as Generic Design Assessment (GDA) that has
already taken several years.
The new nuclear plants, including Hinkley Point, would still
need planning and other government approvals before construction
The regulator said on Tuesday that two GDA issues had been
resolved for the EPR and that it could close all outstanding
issues by the end of the year.
The issues closed on Tuesday included concerns about the
monitoring of irradiation damage to material and evidence that
concrete used at the reactor provided adequate shielding to
ensure that workers and the public would be protected from
The regulator said work was ongoing with EDF, Areva and
Centrica's joint venture company NNB Generation Company on
improvements that would increase confidence it would be able to
safely operate the new plant.
"If EDF and AREVA sustain these improvements for the
significant number of submissions that are still to be
delivered, and if they remain responsive to any questions that
we raise, then we believe that the programmes that are set out
in the revised resolution plans can be achieved," the Office of
Nuclear Regulation said.
"In that case, and if we are satisfied by the safety,
security and environmental arguments that they put forward, we
might be able to close all of the remaining GDA Issues by the
end of the year," it added.
Areva and EDF welcomed the report.
"We are pleased that the efforts have resulted in major
progress towards securing GDA acceptance within the next few
months," Areva UK's Chairman Alain-Pierre Raynaud said in a
"We, and our partners Centrica, aim to take our final
investment decision at the end of this year. It is vital that
momentum is maintained in the legislative process and that we
maintain the momentum in the licensing process," said Humphrey
Cadoux-Hudson, EDF Energy's managing director of nuclear new