As with any UK industry, the energy industry as a whole is comprehensively regulated when it comes to the safety of the public and those who work in the field.
Specific regulations apply to the UK nuclear power industry, enforced by independent external bodies - the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency or Scottish Environment Protection Agency. A key safety principle is 'defence in depth', which involves multiple safety systems featuring high-quality design and construction, automatic failsafe equipment and comprehensive monitoring and testing. Allied to safety is the principle of continuous improvement which governs all civil nuclear programmes, whereby experience gained in one country or by one operator is shared across the nuclear industry.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) keeps a close eye on the UK energy industry from offshore oil and gas extraction to electricity generating plants.
Safety regulations for nuclear
Nuclear power is one of the most comprehensively regulated industries, watched over by the ONR.
History of safety regulations
The nuclear power industry operates within a culture of continuous improvement. Previous incidents have triggered increased regulation and cooperation.
The operation of a nuclear power station depends on its cooling systems, which remove the heat from the reactor. To ensure safety nuclear plants have multiple cooling systems.
Nuclear power stations are designed with robust containment measures to prevent the release of radiation or radioactive material into the environment. To ensure safe operation nuclear plants have multiple layers of containment.