Nuclear power plants in UK undergoing stress tests

The UK’s nuclear power stations have all started "stress tests" as part of an agreement to test all facilities across Europe, the Office for Nuclear Regulation said on September 15.

Following the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan, every nuclear power generating country in Europe agreed in May to undertake relevant tests to an agreed timetable. The tests, carried out by licensees, involve targeted reassessment of each station’s safety margins in the light of extreme natural events, such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

The national nuclear safety regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), will then independently review the results of the tests.

Progress reports were required by September 15 to confirm that licensees of nuclear power stations had started the tests and that they were on schedule to complete them by October 31.

"To date, none of the stress test work by the licensees, or other work and reviews undertaken in the UK, has indicated any fundamental weaknesses in design and resilience at UK nuclear power plants, but, in line with the continuous improvement culture we adopt in this country, lessons are being learnt from Fukushima to improve safety,” said John Donald of the Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Mike Weightman, the UK’s chief nuclear inspector and executive head of ONR, is writing a separate report on lessons learnt from Fukushima for the UK nuclear industry. He published his interim findings on May 18, concluding there was no need to curtail the operation of nuclear plants in the UK, but that lessons should be learnt.

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