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Chinese Firm Told To Resolve Issues Before Moving Forward With Reactor At Bradwell

Last Updated on 08th January 2024

The Environmental Agency has flagged six safety concerns with EDF and China General Nuclear’s (CGN) plans to construct a 2.2GW nuclear reactor at the Bradwell site in Essex, which it must resolve before moving forward.


The generic design issues identified by the Environmental Agency in its early assessment are concerned with heating, ventilation, air conditioning systems, and most importantly, how the China General Nuclear Group will dispose of radioactive waste generated by the site in Bradwell.


The agency concluded that many of the environmental aspects of the design would be acceptable. Still, it has set forward six issues to be resolved before it would issue a complete statement of design acceptability.


The six issues are: -

Potential GDA Issue 1

While operational experience is used to support safety case documentation, the Environment Agency and ONR have noted that it is not used consistently across the project. We have raised a Regulatory Observation to address this. The Requesting Party has not addressed this yet, so we have listed it as a potential GDA Issue.


Potential GDA Issue 2

The Requesting Party has shown that it has considered the environmental aspects of the station design. However, it still has to demonstrate that it has adequately considered the safety aspects of the design. Where safety aspects are still under review the Requesting Party must ensure that environmental protection is given appropriate consideration.


Potential GDA Issue 3

In the UK, we consider that cylindrical filters are the best type of ‘high efficiency particulate air’ (HEPA) filter. However, the Requesting Party has proposed using rectangular filters in the UK HPR1000 heating, ventilation and air conditioning system. It must therefore demonstrate that these are equivalent or better than the cylindrical types in terms of environmental impact.


Potential GDA Issue 4

The Requesting Party has committed to demonstrating that the spent fuel will be stored in an appropriate interim storage facility before it is disposed of in a geological disposal facility. We have not yet received the design requirements for the spent fuel which define the specifications for the interim store and therefore have identified this as a potential GDA Issue.


Potential GDA Issue 5

The Requesting Party has yet to confirm its strategy for disposing of the in core instrument assemblies. The Requesting Party needs to confirm to us the strategy and that this will not impact on the disposal of the waste in core instrument assemblies.


Potential GDA Issue 6

We expect the Requesting Party to get advice from Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, the organisation responsible for providing geological disposal in the UK, on whether the higher activity waste from the UK HPR1000 will be able to be disposed of in a geological disposal facility.


The China General Nuclear Group (CGN)  is assisting in building the first new nuclear power plants in the UK in a generation as a junior partner at EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point c site in Somerset and at EDF’s planned plant at Sizewell C in Suffolk. CGN also plans to build a nuclear reactor using their own designs and hopes to get approval for the same from the UK authorities by 2022. However, many people are against the plan of involving Chinese-owned companies in the UK’s critical national infrastructure due to concerns regarding security and surveillance following the Huawei controversy.

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