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British nuclear watchdog issues concerns on reactors

The AP-1000 reactor.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Nov 27, 2009
Britain's nuclear safety watchdog has warned that French and US-Japanese reactors planned for construction in Britain could be rejected unless safety concerns were met.

The Health and Safety Executive said it has some concerns about features of both designs of the reactor technologies, proposed for use in a new generation of British nuclear power stations.

"We continue to believe that the UK EPR could be suitable for construction on licensed sites in the UK," it said in a report released Thursday.

"However, we have identified a significant number of issues with the safety features of the design that would first have to be progressed.

"If these are not progressed satisfactorily then we would not issue a design acceptance confirmation," the report said.

The executive conducted a safety review of the AP-1000 reactor put forward by US nuclear firm Westinghouse, now owned by Japan's Toshiba, and the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) from French power giant Areva.

"As is normal for complex assessment projects of this type, we are identifying technical questions and issues that we are requesting Westinghouse to address," the report said.

Final approval of the designs is not due to be granted until 2011.

The British government decided to go ahead with a new generation of nuclear plants to replace the country's ageing nuclear infrastructure, most of which will be decommissioned by 2023. Ministers hope the first of a new generation of stations can come on stream as early as 2017.

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