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FAQs

Frequently raised queries on the ABWR have been listed below. These include questions put to Hitachi-GE formally, as well as those which occur regularly throughout the comment process.

Members of the public who believe that any issue has not been adequately addressed in Hitachi-GE's regulatory submissions, or believe they can provide information relevant to the assessment, are invited to submit comments using the make a comment form.

Do you have to go through Generic Design Assessment (GDA)?

Any technology build in the UK has to be permissioned by the regulators. The GDA is a voluntary process which enables a Requesting Party (reactor vendors and promoters primarily) to undergo a thorough assessment of its generic safety case and design in advance of the developers securing a Site Licence. We believe that undertaking GDA is the most effective way for the regulators to asses our design, and have voluntarily entered the process.

Does Generic Design Assessment (GDA) give the go ahead for the planned stations at Wylfa and Oldbury?

GDA is an important process , but it is one of many for a nuclear power station. Horizon Nuclear Power – the developer at these two sites – will need to secure a range of local and national permissions, involving a range of consultations, in order to take their projects forward.

Does Generic Design Assessment (GDA) relate only to Wylfa and Oldbury?

GDA is a national assessment and applies to any proposed UK ABWR development in the UK.

How long will the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) take?

The GDA will be complete when the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has issued Design Acceptance Confirmations (DAC) and the Environment Agency has issued a Statement of Design Acceptability (SODA). This GDA process is not time limited, but based on the Regulator’s guidance and previous experience we expect the process to be complete in 2017.

What are the next steps for Generic Design Assessment (GDA)?

We will continue to make submissions to the regulators, throughout the remainder of the assessment, and hope to complete GDA by the end of 2017. The exact timeframes for the ONR and EA processes differ slightly, and we expect EA to undertake a public consultation on their scope in the latter part of 2016.

Do "Regulatory Observations" or "Regulatory Issues" mean that the design is not safe?

No, not at all. The regulators will raise ROs or RIs where they believe that further work is needed on an aspect of the design in order to complete the GDA. This is a normal part of the process as the regulators closely scrutinise the design, and several issues were raised in previous assessments. We will respond to each point as it is raised, and the ROs and RIs will be published along with our Resolution Plans on the regulators’ website.

Can I make a comment about the use of nuclear power on this site?

The comment facility on this website is specifically for the GDA of the UK ABWR. UK energy policy is led by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (see our links page).

Who can make a comment on this site?

Anybody is welcome to make a comment. We invite members of the public, organisations and institutions with relevant information to submit a comment via the page. Please do just bear in mind that we can only formally accept comments that relate to the GDA of UK ABWR.

Was Hitachi-GE involved at Fukushima?

Hitachi and GE were both involved in different aspects of construction and maintenance at the site. However, neither was responsible for on-site operational matters – the site is run by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Both companies are now involved in on-going work to improve the situation at the site, and are at the forefront of learning lessons which will be applied to future developments.

Isn't the ABWR basically the same sort of design as the reactors at Fukushima destroyed by the Tsunami in March 2011?

The ABWR is a development from the design used in the Fukushima reactors in the same way as a modern car is a development of a car from the 1950s. The modern car has many features that were not included in it’s predecessors, or even available when it was designed - such as seat belts as standard, ABS, traction control and airbags. In the same way, ABWR has many features that were not included in the Fukushima reactors or available when they were designed. There’s more information on these systems available on our reactor safety page.

ABWR has only 3 divisions of safety equipment when most other nuclear plants in the UK have 4. Does this mean that ABWR is less safe?

No. The overall safety of the reactor design is dependent on many factors. The ABWR design is the latest evolution of the BWR design and incorporates all the improvements designed over 50 years of evolution. The ABWR incorporates multiple layers of safety including passive elements and active elements. We are confident that the UK ABWR design will not only satisfy all UK requirements but will have levels of safety comparable to the very best of modern reactor designs. However this will of course be thoroughly assessed and scrutinised throughout the GDA process.

What is to stop the same thing happening here that happened at Fukushima?

On our Reactor Safety page we give an overview of the differences in design and site layout in the reactors being proposed here to those developed at Fukushima. The UK also has a world-leading regulatory regime, and the two sites proposed by Horizon are not subject to the same extreme conditions as those seen in Japan.

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