31 Oct 12

EDF Energy welcomes progress report from the Office of Nuclear Regulation on lessons learned after Fukushima

Regulator sees good progress and a “significant commitment” in implementing recommendations

EDF Energy has welcomed today’s report reviewing progress made in implementing recommendations made by the Chief Nuclear Inspector, Dr Mike Weightman following the Fukushima incident.

After concluding that UK facilities have “no fundamental weaknesses”, Dr Weightman’s original report made 38 recommendations. Today the ONR concluded that it saw “good progress” being made by EDF Energy in implementing the measures. It is also noted that EDF Energy had demonstrated a “significant commitment” to addressing lessons learnt from Fukushima.

The company’s comprehensive plan to meet the recommendations include additional refresher training in Severe Accident Management for key technical staff, and putting in place enhancements to backup equipment such as electrical supplies for cooling systems, equipment related to fuel pond cooling and emergency command and control facilities. The programme is due for completion in 2014.

The work by EDF Energy has extended beyond the existing eight nuclear power stations to its plans for two new nuclear reactors, which would be able to supply enough low carbon electricity for around 40% of the UK’s homes. Today’s report also found that the EDF Energy has “expended considerable effort in identifying enhanced resilience, enhanced essential supplies and additional back-up equipment in its new nuclear plans”.

The report also recognises the need for the industry to be open and transparent – something which EDF Energy is supporting, with measures which include a programme to open visitor centres at existing nuclear sites – the first opened in August at Hunterston in North Ayrshire .

Subject to its final investment decision, EDF Energy is ready to begin this major infrastructure project in Somerset, which is on a similar scale to the London Olympics. It will deliver 25,000 jobs during its construction period, including hundreds of new apprentices.

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz said: “Nuclear safety is the overriding priority for EDF Energy. We operate 15 reactors in the UK with a world class safety record. Since the events at Fukushima in March 2011, we’ve completed in-depth reviews considering extreme natural events like earthquakes and floods. These extensive studies assure us that the UK plants are safe to continue operation and this is a conclusion shared by the ONR.

“The ONR report concludes that our UK plants are very safe and resilient to extreme natural events but we never take safety for granted. We’re delivering a comprehensive work programme to further enhance resilience and response to extreme natural events – due for completion in 2014.

“We are delivering the ONR’s recommendations. We will build an Emergency Response Centre at Sizewell B and regional facilities for the rest of the UK nuclear fleet. We will also take on board the lessons from Fukushima in the design and operation of any new nuclear facilities in the UK.”

“We will be ready by the end of this year to take new nuclear to the next stage. Progress will depend on an agreement with the Government on a robust legal framework encompassing a Contract for Difference which will transparently demonstrate the true competitiveness of nuclear with all other low carbon technologies.”

To read EDF Energy's submissions to the ONR for the Weightman implementation report please click here