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UK Nuke Reactor Results: Not Quite Glowing

The latest reactor technology, on which the nuclear industry's hopes of a revival are pinned, faces more trouble.

The UK nuclear regulator NII said it expects unresolved safety issues with "European Pressurized Water" (EPR)designs by Areva and the AP1000 by Westinghouse, according to Platts, a McGraw-Hill media outlet.

In a quarterly progress report released Wednesday, the NII also said that such open issues would not adversely affect existing plans by utility operators to build the "Generation III+" reactors unless significant safety problems arose during site licensing.

A review program was set up to allow the regulator sign off on generic reactor designs. Thereafter, the certifications could be referenced in site license applications by utilities building the reactors. Only site-specific licensing issues would undergo regulatory review for each new EPR plant.

But the program has been plagued by delays resulting from NII staff shortages and a failure on the part of the reactor vendors to satisfy the regulator's queries, Platt's reports.

"UK regulator says reactor designs have unresolved safety issues" Platt's

Last week, British economist and nuclear energy policy analyst Stephen Thomas released a new analysis saying France's EPR design is "in crisis."

The problems with the reactor are so serious that they threaten its future deployment, according to the University of Greenwich professor of energy studies.

From the article in the POWER Magazine blog:

In his report β€” The EPR in Crisis β€” Thomas says the Areva design, begun in 1995 to add more passive safety factors to the basic Electricite de France Generation III PWR, has not been able to deliver on promises of a new, safer reactor that is dramatically less capital-intensive than past machines. In 2001, French nuclear officials claimed the EPR could be built for $1320/KW, but the costs of the two EPR units now under construction in Finland and France are well behind schedule and running more than triple the cost estimate, at $4800/KW in 2009 for the Finnish reactor. In his report, Thomas says, β€œIt seems unlikely that all the problems that have contributed to the delays and cost-overruns have been solved; the final cost could be significantly higher.”

"EPR: Reactor in Crisis" POWER Magazine blog