Five Notable Developments in Nuclear this Week 22.03.2019

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1. EDF faces pushback on plans for new nuclear in Suffolk

Local authorities are asking to receive a more detailed proposal for EDF Energy’s Sizewell C scheme. Concerns about the construction process, in particular the delivery of materials, are preventing Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council from fully supporting the project. Fears that local Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty will be ruined have raised the issue’s profile and a series of actors, broadcasters and entrepreneurs have voiced opposition to EDF’s plans.

(Energy Voice, 20 March 2019, Link)

(The Telegraph, 20 March 2019, Link)

2. Hunterson B sees outage extension

Nuclear reactors at Hunterston B have had their outages extended as EDF waits for the Office of Nuclear Regulation’s (ONR) safety assessment. Last year, during a routine safety inspection, cracks were discovered in Hunterston B-8 and B-7’s graphite cores. Further inspection determined that these cracks were spreading at a faster rate than modelled. Since being taken offline, EDF has completed an extensive inspection programme to determine the condition of the cores. EDF has submitted its findings to the Office of Nuclear Regulation as well as a safety case for their return to service. It is currently expected that Hunterston B-8 reactor will restart on 30 April 2019 and Hunterston B-7 on 29 June 2019. This is later than forecast by a month and two months, respectively.

(EDF Energy, Hunterston B – Community Update, 18 March 2019, Link)

3. Silos Maintenance Facility (SMF) declared ready for action

The Silos Maintenance Facility, a mechanical handling plant on the Sellafield site, has been officially declared ready for use. The SMF is a support plant that will enable Sellafield to empty waste out of legacy silos. The project was part of a joint venture with Cavendish Nuclear and was delivered on schedule and within its sanctioned budget.

(Nuclear Industry Association, 21 March 2019, Link)

4. BEIS releases an independent report on the characteristics of micro nuclear reactors

The report published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy outlines the key technological characteristics of Micro Nuclear Reactors (MNRs). It places particular emphasis on assessing the market and regulatory challenges that would be linked to their deployment. The study concludes that MNRs are a viable, economically beneficial energy source and could achieve widespread market penetration by 2030. Their success would, however, require political, regulatory and financial support.

(Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Market and technical assessment of Micro Nuclear Reactors, 22 March 2019, Link)

5. BEIS’ impact assessment for the amendment of regulation of nuclear Sites deemed fir for purpose.

The Regulatory Policy Committee has published its opinion on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) consultation stage impact assessment for the amendment of regulation of nuclear sites. BEIS is proposing to amend regulatory arrangements in order to align NIA65 with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s recommended ‘Paris Convention Decommissioning Exclusion Criteria.’ This amendment would result in an estimated saving of £383.1 million for businesses seeking to decommission nuclear sites.

(Regulatory Policy Committee, Amendment of regulation of nuclear sites: RPC Opinion, 20 March 2019, Link)

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