UK nuclear has no “serious” weaknesses

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has confirmed the UK’s non-power generating nuclear facilities are safe after “robust and challenging” stress tests were carried out. The tests were requested last year […]

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By Tom Gibson

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has confirmed the UK’s non-power generating nuclear facilities are safe after “robust and challenging” stress tests were carried out. The tests were requested last year by chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman following last year’s accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan.

Mark Foy, a senior inspector at the Office for Nuclear Regulation said: “This report concludes there is work to be done to make sites more resilient, but no serious safety weaknesses have emerged. There are 75 findings. The majority cover severe accident management and back-up for key systems and functions.”

The ONS examined non-generating sites, which includes the Sellafield nuclear site, one of the biggest groupings of nuclear installations in Europe, as well as small licensed sites. It also included fuel cycle and storage facilities and submarines.

Although improvements are suggested, Mr Foy said the disaster in Japan had in fact taught valuable lessons: “Fukushima Dai-ichi provided the world with a unique opportunity to learn from a serious nuclear accident. We have required licensees to assess how well they would deal with extreme situations beyond what they would normally consider in their regular safety reviews.”

Some of the potential improvements suggested include improving flood protection, increasing back-up generators, creating flood access to damaged facilities and improving emergency response and command facilities.