Nuclear watchdog issues safety warning over new reactors

French and US reactor models planned for construction in Britain are flawed, says report

The nuclear safety regulator has warned that two new reactor designs could be rejected due to wide-ranging concerns over their safety.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) said that it was concerned about several features of the French and US-Japanese reactor technologies, proposed for use in a new generation of British nuclear power stations.

Kevin Allars, director of new build at the NII, said that he was confident that both designs "could be suitable" for use in Britain. However, he added: "If they aren't acceptable, or there are sufficient doubts in our mind whether they should be built in this country, then we will not issue a design acceptance confirmation. So far we don't have a complete design yet from either . . . So we cannot rule it out."

The NII, which is part of the Health and Safety Executive, conducted a safety review of the AP-1000 reactor put forward by Toshiba-Westinghouse and the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) from French power giant Areva.

The report said that it had "significant concerns" about the functioning of specialist valves controlling pressure at the heart of the reactor. The safety body says another part of the reactor is "not entirely in alignment with international good practice".

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


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