|1. Are there any circumstances in which the 'justifying authority' might conclude that new nuclear power stations are not justified. If so, what are they?||As required by the Regulations, the Justifying Authority would decide that proposed nuclear power station designs were not Justified if he concluded that the detriment to health outweighed the benefits.|
|2. It is very difficult to know what is happening across the nuclear programme and what the interdependencies are. Will DECC set out and publish a clear plan to manage various facilitative actions?||An "Indicative timeline for the first new nuclear power stations" and a "Consultations map" which feature on the Office for Nuclear Development web pages both provide information on what the Government is doing to facilitate nuclear new build and where the opportunities are for people to get involved.|
|3. Why is there no real mechanism for NGOs and other stakeholders to engage with Government on nuclear issues on a regular basis?||DECC very much value input to the policy making process by stakeholders and offer meetings to key stakeholder groups on a regular basis. In particular, OND have e mailed the NGOs at regular intervals asking them to attend meetings and have recently met with Greenpeace and RSPB. DECC offered to attend the Regulator NGO seminar, but, this offer was rejected. Furthermore, we are arranging a meeting with NGOs in the autumn to discuss the wide ranging issues in the draft Energy National Policy Statements.|
|4. Are the nuclear regulators at risk of losing public confidence if they do not call for a public inquiry as part of the Government's Justification decision-making process?||The Regulations provide for an inquiry or other hearing as one of a range of possible steps which the Secretary of State can take if he considers it expedient to do so in connection with the exercise of any of his functions under the Regulations. The Secretary of State has not concluded at this stage that it is necessary to hold an inquiry or other hearing as part of the Regulatory Justification process. However, the Secretary of State will keep this under review in considering the responses to the consultation on his draft decision. The Government has consulted the regulators throughout the process and will continue to do so.|
|5. Non-disposability of radioactive waste is a detriment under Justification. Will the regulators be making that point to the Justifying Authority?||Government has made clear throughout the process that the Regulatory Justification decision will take account of the radioactive waste to be produced by any proposed class or type of practice. The nuclear regulators will consider the disposability assessments that are provided by requesting parties and applicants in their submissions to ensure that any radioactive waste and spent fuel that is proposed to be produced by any new nuclear powers stations should be disposable.|
|6. Do you, or others, monitor levels of background radiation over time?||The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has carried out a number of studies to determine levels of radiation in the UK from natural sources, including radon and gamma radiation from naturally occurring radionuclides in the environment. HPA has also had an environmental surveillance programme in place for 30 years with the aim of providing a baseline against which measurements at other locations, such as in the vicinity of nuclear sites can be compared. This programme measures levels of artificial radionuclides from atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons prior to the partial nuclear test ban treaty of 1963 and also due to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1985. In addition the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the Environment Agency (EA) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have an extensive programme of monitoring of radionuclides in the environment from authorised discharges from UK sites and also measure some natural radionuclides in seafood and terrestrial foods for comparison purposed. The results are published annually in the Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) series of reports. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) also compiles information on levels of radiation from all sources and publishes the results periodically. This includes information on levels of cosmic radiation throughout the world.
Periodically the HPA reviews the exposure of the UK population to ionising radiation; the last review was for 2005 and was published in Watson et al (2005).
|7. Are background radiation levels increasing in the UK?||Levels of radiation from natural background radiation are more or less constant with time. However, the levels of radiation due to the fallout from nuclear weapons testing are now extremely low and have reduced significantly since the 1950s and 1960s when atmospheric testing was still being carried out. A recent paper (Jones et al 2007) considered the trends in the UK population dose and found that overall there had been a slight decrease in time. This was more marked for some sources, particularly fallout from weapons testing but doses from medical exposures have increased and these are included in the overall total. The latest available RIFE report for 2007 notes that in many locations, including close to nuclear sites, exposures from radioactivity in the environment have declined.|
|8. Why does Comare monitor radiological impacts over a 25k distance from source? Doesn't this just dilute the findings?||Strictly speaking this is a question for COMARE. However, we note that the analyses presented in COMARE's 10th and 11th reports not only looked at childhood cancer rates within 25km of nuclear installations in Great Britain, but - within each of these 25km bands - looked to see whether childhood cancer rates increased with increasing proximity to the installation. Trend analyses of this type have also been conducted in analyses around nuclear installations in other countries, including France and Germany.|
|9. Does a linear risk/exposure model underestimate the hazards of low levels of exposure to radiation?||While epidemiological studies provide direct information on risks at doses of a few tens of mGy, risks at very low doses cannot be demonstrated in such studies and assumptions must be made for protection purposes. ICRP assume a linear relationship between dose and risk so that for all radiation exposures, even at small fractions of natural background levels, risk is assumed to be proportional to the dose received. It is the consensus view that this "linear non-threshold" assumption (LNT) is the best approach on current evidence for radiation protection purposes (Preston 2003, NCRP 2001, ICRP 2006 2007). Indeed, the LNT assumption is essential for the operation of the current protection system, allowing the addition of external and internal doses of different magnitudes, with different temporal and spatial patterns of delivery.
Nevertheless, the LNT dose-response remains controversial, with arguments for supra-linear low-dose responses and for thresholds and/or hormetic effects (CERRIE 2004, French Academy of Sciences 2005, Tubiana et al 2008, Feinendegen et al 2008). ICRP (2007) conclude that the true validity of the LNT model may prove to be beyond definitive resolution for the foreseeable future. For reasons of practicality, it is highly desirable to retain the LNT assumption unless or until this position becomes scientifically untenable. Indeed, the current methodology is totally dependent on the LNT assumption. This is an active area of research involving European and international collaboration.
|10. Should the dose limit be reduced to below 10 micro sieverts given the uncertainties around LNT?||The HPA (2009) has published advice on the application of the 2007 Recommendations of the ICRP to the UK in which it endorses the ICRP protection system involving Justification, Optimisation and Dose limitation. HPA continues to recommend the use of an occupational dose limit of 20 mSv in a single year with no allowance for higher annual doses based on averaging over several years. Furthermore, HPA supports ICRP's policy that the methods of protection at work for women who are pregnant should provide a level of protection for the embryo/fetus broadly similar to that provided for members of the public and specifically that after declaration of pregnancy the dose to the fetus should not exceed about 1 mSv. For public exposures HPA continues to recommend the dose limit of 1 mSv in a year, with no averaging of exposures between years. The only circumstance where the additional flexibility of averaging between years may be justified is that of the exposure of certain persons, other than comforters and carers (who are covered by HPA's advice on medical exposures) arising from the medical exposure of another person. The HPA advises that the current approach specified in the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999 of placing a limit of 5 mSv effective dose over a 5 year period continues to be appropriate for this specific circumstance.
Dose constraints are set on sources of exposure at the planning stage as upper limits on the optimisation process. Previously, NRPB recommended a maximum dose constraint for proposed controlled sources of 0.3 mSv y-1 noting that dose constraints lower than this could be set where such doses are readily achievable (NRPB, 1993). HPA (2009) continues to recommend this approach but re-emphasises that the 0.3 mSv y-1 value is a maximum and that regulators should set lower, more challenging dose constraints where appropriate. At the design stage of new plant it is more straightforward to take measures to reduce exposures of the public than it is when measures have to be introduced to existing plant. Therefore, it is recommended that for new nuclear power stations and new facilities for the disposal of radioactive waste, regulators consider applying a more challenging dose constraint, taking into account the levels of protection that can be achieved internationally. The HPA specifically advises the UK Government to select a value for the constraint for members of the public for new nuclear power stations and waste disposal facilities that is less than 0.15 mSv per year, applying to new plant as a design criterion.
To put these doses in context, the average radiation exposure of an individual member of the public in the UK from natural sources is estimated to exceed 2 mSv, about half of which is due to inhalation of radon which delivers an average dose to the lungs of about 10 mSv (Watson et al 2005).
|11. Will HPA work with ECRR, LLRC and other nuclear industry critics to determine the truth about risk/impact of low level Radiation?||The HPA is actively involved at the fore-front of research on the effects of low level radiation, with a strong programme of experimental research and epidemiology. This work involves collaboration in the UK and internationally.
With regard to critics of the nuclear industry, The HPA aim is to engage on health issues with all interested parties to ensure that difficult scientific information is promulgated effectively and discussed as openly as possible. We are always open to new findings and are strongly of the opinion that it is healthy for the system of radiation protection to be challenged by those with different views. We have responded to ECRR recommendations (www.hpa.org.uk) and to comments on our consultations received form LLRC.
|12. Have IAEA and WHO reviews of radiation risk ignored significant evidence (e.g. Russian studies)?||Health studies conducted in the former Soviet Union of populations affected by the Chernobyl accident have been variable in quality. Consequently, in evaluating information from these studies, bodies such UNSCEAR (the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation), WHO and IAEA have considered the way in which these studies were designed and carried out.
An updated assessment of radiation effects associated with the Chernobyl accident will be published shortly by UNSCEAR. The conclusions of this assessment, which are included in the report delivered to the United Nations General Assembly (see 2008 report to the General Assembly (A/63/46) at http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/general_assembly_all.html) and www.unscear.org/unscear/en/chernobyl.html, highlighted the raised incidence of thyroid cancer among persons exposed to accident-related radiation as children or adolescents in 1986 in Belarus, Ukraine and parts of Russia and indications of an increase in the incidence of leukaemia and of cataracts among recovery operation workers who received higher doses. However, to date there has been no consistent evidence of any other health effect that can be attributed to radiation exposure arsing from the accident.
|13. There has been an increased breast cancer incidence world-wide since the 50s and 60s nuclear weapons test fallout. How can you be sure that this is not linked to low level radiation?||Lifestyle factors such as reproductive history that strongly influence the risk of breast cancer have also varied over recent decades. Increased screening for breast cancer is also likely to have affected time patterns in recorded breast cancer incidence. Consequently, studies that simply look at time trends in breast cancer incidence are not sufficient to determine causes.
In order to estimate the risk of breast cancer due to radiation exposure, reliance has been placed on studies of populations such as patients who received multiple chest fluoroscopies as part of their treatment for tuberculosis, patients treated for benign disease and the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The UNSCEAR 2006 report gives more details of these studies: see www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2006/07-82087_Report_Annex_A_2006_ Web_corr.pdf. These studies show that, other than at very high doses, the risk of breast cancer varies in a linear manner with radiation dose. Thus the risks associated with the very small doses due to weapons test fallout would themselves be very small and are unlikely to be detectable by epidemiological studies.
|14. Presentations today made no reference to long term discharges from spent fuel. Thus the statement that there is a "sophisticated system of control" was not established over the relevant timescales?||The sophisticated system of control referred to is that based on ICRP (1991, 2007) recommendations, incorporated into European and UK legislation. Compared with many environmental hazards, we have a good understanding of the risks of radiation exposure, from external sources and internally incorporated radionuclides, gained over several decades. There is a colossal literature on the subject, with authoritative reviews produced by the United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the US National Academy of Sciences, and others. This information is used by the ICRP to provide a system of protection that is followed worldwide and is applicable to long-term discharges into the environment.|
|15. To what extent does the HPA take into account new research into the causes of cancer clusters?||HPA maintains surveillance of health research conducted around locations such as nuclear installations. However, whilst reports of cancer clusters may raise hypotheses about possible causes, these investigations generally do not allow identification of specific causes. Consequently, in evaluating health risks from radiation exposure, HPA places greater weight on epidemiological studies that involve assessments of radiation exposures to specific individuals.|
|16. Kinlen (1989) appeared on the day the Hinkley Point P1 started. It is a hypothesis but is not capable of being disproved. The situation at Sellafield and Dounreay ie years of influx of workers does not support Kinlen.||Analyses of data on childhood cancer incidence throughout Great Britain, described in COMARE's 11th report, indicated that childhood leukaemia and some other forms of childhood cancer have a general tendency to cluster. The precise reason for this pattern is unclear. Hypotheses have been raised by Kinlen and Greaves about a possible infective basis for the development of childhood leukaemia. COMARE in its 11th report stated that these and other hypotheses require further research. We would add that Kinlen and colleagues (British Medical Journal, 310, 763-8, 1995) suggested that the prolonged excess of childhood leukaemia in Seascale may be related to the influx of construction workers over many years.|
|17. Current EU project radiation, a new paradigm examining radiation effects and cellular development led by STUK including Genomic Instability (1992 - Khadin and Wight et al) and Bystander Effects. Will this impact on risk estimates?||The United Nations Scientific Committee on Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR: www.unscear.org), has reviewed data on non-targeted effects of radiation and concluded that knowledge and understanding of these processes are insufficiently developed to inform judgments on dose- response at low doses. This conclusion was also reached by ICRP (2007) and endorsed by the HPA (2009). As noted by ICRP, human epidemiological studies remain the primary source of quantitative risk data and all contributing processes should be accounted for adequately. However, some uncertainties remain on the mechanisms operating at low doses and the associated risks. HPA staff will join STUK led initiatives on future European funding of low dose radiation research.|
|18. If you are concerned to establish radiation risks, then you would have set up a parallel organisation to RERF to examine Chernobyl effects. Why has it not been set up?||Research into populations affected by the Chernobyl accident has been conducted by various institutes in Belarus, Russia and the Ukraine. Whilst we recognise the benefits that would arise from unifying research activities both within and between these countries, logistically it is unlikely that an organisation similar to RERF could be set up now. Consequently, international efforts have focussed on coordinating research activities and drawing together findings from this research. In particular, the European Commission is supporting the development of a strategic research agenda for Chernobyl studies: see http://arch.iarc.fr/.|
|19. What data has been gathered from the Chernobyl accident and who is analysing it?||Health studies are being conducted by institutes in the former Soviet Union, sometimes in collaboration with organisations such as the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Also, the European Commission and other bodies are supporting an international project to collect tissues from thyroid cancer patients in the affected areas, to support research on radiation-induced thyroid cancer: see www.chernobyltissuebank.com/. UNSCEAR published a review of Chernobyl research in 2000 and an updated report is due to be published shortly: see www.unscear.org.|
|20. Why is Chernobyl data not used to assess low level radiation risk? Is this not more appropriate than Hiroshima survivor data?||Chernobyl data have been considered in reviews of radiation risks; for example, in the comprehensive review of radiation and cancer conducted by UNSCEAR in its 2006 report: www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2006/07-82087_Report_Annex_A_2006_ Web_corr.pdf. However, it should be recognised that there are many other studies of radiation risks, including studies of workers exposed to low doses over prolonged periods, of patients exposed either for reasons of diagnosis or treatment, of natural exposures such as long-term exposures to radon in home, and of environmental exposures, e.g. from contamination of the Techa River in Russia and from fallout around the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons site in Kazakhstan.
In deriving estimating of radiation risks, it is important to consider the strengths and limitations of these studies, including the potential for bias, the statistical precision of the findings and the exposure setting. Estimates of the radiation risks are based predominantly on studies of survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because this is a large population of females and males of all ages, followed up over many years, who received a wide range of radiation doses - including low doses - that have been quantified for individual survivors. The findings from other well-designed and well-conducted studies - including studies of workers with protracted exposures - are generally consistent with the risk estimates based on the A-bomb survivors.
|21. Can the HPA please provide an official independent review of the Kikk study?||An independent assessment of the KiKK study has been conducted by the German Commission on Radiological Protection. The English language version of the Commission's report can be found at: www.ssk.de/werke/volltext/2008/ssk0806e.pdf. In addition, the Department of Health has requested COMARE to conduct a review of recent publications on the incidence of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of nuclear power stations, in relation to the conclusions in COMARE's 10th and 11th reports. As part of its current work programme (www.comare.org.uk/comare_work.htm), COMARE has set up a subgroup of committee members and external experts to conduct this review.|
|22. Can an independent research similar to the Kikk study be carried out in UK?||COMARE's 10th and 11th reports considered the geographical distribution of childhood leukaemia and other cancers, both in relation to proximity to nuclear installations and more generally in small areas throughout Great Britain. Researchers involved in this work have subsequently re-analysed these data, using methods closer to those adopted in the KiKK study. This analysis, which was published last year (Bithell et al, Radiation Protection Dosimetry, 132, 191-7, 2008), did not show increasing rates of leukaemia at ages less than 5 years with increasing proximity to nuclear power stations in Great Britain.|
|23. Does the HPA proposed constraint of 0.15 mSv take into account all facilities of a design as defined by the HSE, e.g. reactor and spent fuel store?||The HPA recommended dose constraint applies to proposed controlled sources and is intended to be a constraint on optimisation. Exactly how it would be applied to specific sites would depend on the regulator but the HPA view is that it should apply to facilities that can be optimised as a whole. This would include all of the linked operations carried out on a site by the same operator, so could include a nuclear reactor and a spent fuel store. The UK Government currently also has a site dose constraint which applies to the planned operations from the site as a whole, which might include more than one facility with different operators.|
|24. Who decided on June 2011 for GDA for completing GDA, and why?||June 2011 was chosen as the completion date for GDA by the Joint Regulators as we are confident that we will have made sufficient progress by then to be able to arrive at a meaningful conclusion.|
|25. Doesn't setting an end date for GDA demonstrate a 'pre-determination' of the outcome?||No. There is no pre-determination. We are confident that we will complete a meaningful GDA by this date. The conclusion could be positive or negative for either of the reactor designs.
A meaningful GDA is one where the RPs' submissions will be judged against our safety assessment principles including the need to demonstrate that all risks are reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable. A possible outcome of GDA is that by June 2011 we are not convinced that a reactor is suitable for construction in the UK, in which case a Design Acceptance Confirmation will not be issued for that reactor.
|26. What happens if you can't complete GDA by June 2011?||We are confident that we will have undertaken sufficient assessment so that we will complete by June 2011. A possible outcome might be that we are not convinced that a reactor is suitable for construction in the UK, in which case a Design Acceptance Confirmation would not be issued for that reactor.|
|27. Would you be prepared not to issue a GDA Design Acceptance Confirmation for the reactor designs?||Yes|
|28. Is it possible that you could 'reject' both designs?||Yes|
|29. Under what circumstances would you not issue a GDA confirmation?||If the Requesting Party does not provide sufficient information to undertake a meaningful GDA, or if our assessment identifies safety, environment or security issues that are so significant that we are not confident that they can be resolved.|
|30. Why do you propose producing Step 3 Reports in November 2009 when there will be gaps in your assessment? Why not wait until you assessment is complete?||Nov 2009 was chosen because we are confident that we will have made sufficient progress by then to be able to publish Step 3 reports on that date. We are on track to meet this date.
One of the reasons for producing the Step 3 reports is to provide a detailed summary of how our assessment is progressing. November 2009 was chosen as it allowed sufficient progress on assessment work to be made and meaningful assessment progress reports written. The assessment work will continue through Step 4, and our work will conclude in June 2011.
|31. Why issue exclusions? Why not just delay the end of GDA until your assessment is complete?||We will have completed a meaningful assessment by the end of GDA.
However, previous UK regulatory, and international, experience has shown that in projects such as GDA it is not unusual for industry to take significant time to completely resolve some of the technical issues raised by regulators, in view of the need for new analysis, tests or research etc to be carried out.
In addition, there may be other issues that we judge are better resolved as part of the site specific assessment. Thus, in these instances, a 'satisfactory' response to a technical issue could be one where the issue is not fully closed-out in GDA, but where there is a planned way forward that we judge is acceptable. Also, there may be other issues that we judge are better resolved as part of the site-specific assessment.
It might then be appropriate for us to allow the project to proceed in a controlled manner to the site specific phase, and it is in these circumstances that we would identify the issues as GDA Exclusions.
|32. Does the independent Process Review Board support issuing GDA Design Acceptance Confirmations with exclusions?||The Process Review Board carried out a review of the Step 2 process in February 2008 and completed a follow-up review on their recommendations in December 2008. The details of the exclusions process were proposed in May 2009 and the PRB will be considering this process as one of several issues in its next review - of Step 3 - which is likely to be undertaken in early 2010|
|33. Are you giving sufficient time to carry out your assessment?||Yes, we are confident that we will have completed a meaningful assessment by June 2011.|
|34. Are your resource levels adequate?||Yes both regulators' resources are now currently adequate. HSE did not have sufficient staff in place in time to complete Step 3 within the planned 12 month period and as a result we extended Step 3 by 6 months. There are still one or two vacant posts in HSE that will reinforce our team for Step 4, and we expect these to be filled by the end of 2009.|
|35. What discussions are you having with other regulators, e.g. with STUK, over the EDF and AREVA UK EPR™ Reactor Control and Instrumentation issue?||NII are having significant information exchanges with overseas regulators on many topics within GDA. For the EPR C&I issue, this has included bilateral exchanges with France and Finland, as well as work within the Multi National Design Evaluation Programme. We have discussed the C&I issue in all these for a and have recently issued a joint regulatory statement with ASN and STUK on this topic.
OCNS is in discussion with other Security Regulators, particularly those in the European Nuclear Security Regulators Association (ENSRA), which includes STUK, to ensure that international best practices is considered in the UK's security objectives and model standards for any new nuclear power station.
|36. Why is GDA not site specific?||The GDA process was designed to allow regulatory involvement well in advance of site licensing assessments, so that the regulators could examine the designs early in the process when they are able to influence the final design. This increases the impact the regulators can have while at the same time reducing the risk to industry that significant safety issues will be identified during the construction phase, when the cost and programme impact could be significantly higher. So, GDA is conducted before firm site specific plans are put in place.
Our discussions on the EPR C&I system are a good example of the benefits of tackling safety issues early on a generic basis, allowing identification of solutions before site specific design and programme constraints reduce the options for resolution.
There will of course be some issues that cannot be tackled on a generic basis and these will be addressed in the site specific programmes.
Additional information on this is on our website at www.onr.org.uk/new-reactors/background.htm
|37. What opportunities will there be for NGOs and others to scrutinise the outcome of GDA?||There are many opportunities to scrutinise the outcomes of GDA which include information on our website, quarterly progress reports, and public reports at the end of Steps 2, 3, and 4.
In addition, the Environment Agency will prepare a consultation document that sets out the matters that it has taken into account and the outcome of its detailed assessment, together with any specific questions that it would wish consultees to respond to. They may include a draft template authorisation appropriate to the candidate design, based on our current integrated template for authorisations. This, obviously, would not include site specific conditions or information, but might, for example, include discharge limits that we would expect plants of that design to be able to meet.
The Environment Agency will consult widely with other regulators, Government Departments and bodies, non-governmental organisations, other interested bodies and the public. It will notify consultees by appropriate means, including public notices in newspapers. If, at the time it is preparing its consultation, information is available about where new power stations might be sited, it will ensure that its consultation documents are well publicised in those localities.
The HSE will not be conducting a formal public consultation as part of GDA, but does take into account all relevant comments made as part of the public involvement process for GDA. This includes comments made on the RPs' safety submissions and the vendors' responses, general correspondence on its assessment and any comments on the Step 3 reports. All relevant comments will be taken into account during the Step 4 assessment and will inform its decision on whether or not to issue Design Confirmation Acceptances.
|38. Will the HSE and Environment Agency provide a calendar of all plans; report dates and engagement consultations and how they align with Govt consultation?||This is available at page 8 of the GDA Quarterly Report for April-June 2009 (www.onr.org.uk/new-reactors/reports/gda-q2-09.pdf). The DECC programme is available on their website.|
|39. What level of resources are being assigned to each technical discipline?||The Environment Agency has a dedicated assessment team working on Generic Design Assessment. As appropriate, other staff members are involved where they have specialist knowledge, for example assessment of impacts to non-human species.
OCNS have put together a dedicated team of inspectors with their work being directed and overseen by a Deputy Director. As appropriate, other staff members are involved where they have specialist knowledge, for example in Command and Control issues.
NII have put in place specialist inspectors in each of the 15 technical areas. The number varies from 1 to 3 per discipline depending on the complexity, safety significance, and volume of work required. Each inspector also has access to Technical Support Contractors to undertake deep specialist work in support of his or her assessment activities. Contract values vary from tens of thousands of pounds up to a million pounds.
|40. What are the current actual and desired staffing levels, both for design assessment and inspection of existing sites?||Primary responsibility for safety at the UK's nuclear sites rests with the operators of those sites. The role of HSE's Nuclear Directorate, which includes the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, is to provide regulatory oversight and assurance that they discharge that responsibility. We believe that ND has the resources available to discharge that role. The Chief Nuclear Inspector and his senior operational managers regularly review staffing levels across the Nuclear Directorate to ensure that specialist nuclear resources are deployed consistent with priorities for nuclear safety.
As a result of successive recruitment exercises, resources in the Directorate for generic design assessment should reach planned levels by December this year. The Health and Safety Executive is confident, subject to the provision of the necessary documentation from the industry, that it will meet the published timetable for completing a meaningful assessment of the generic design proposals by June 2011.
The Government is determined to ensure that nuclear regulation is properly and sustainably resourced to meet the challenges of the future. It has published proposals to restructure the Nuclear Directorate to that end, which can be found at: www.decc.gov.uk/
Pending any changes implemented following the consultation on the proposals to restructure the Nuclear Directorate, the rewards structure for nuclear inspectors has already been significantly improved so that HSE can build up the specialist nuclear resources it needs. The improvements should enable the Nuclear Directorate to increase its strength of nuclear inspectors to 227 by around the end of 2009 in line with earlier predictions of the needs of the business, including assessing generic reactor design proposals for new nuclear power stations.
The Environment Agency has about 80 radioactive substance regulation staff (managerial, technical and administrative) carrying out work primarily relating to nuclear sites in England and Wales. Of these about 12 staff are working primarily on new nuclear build matters GDA and site specific. Other radioactive substance regulation staff are primarily involved in non-nuclear radioactive substance regulation (e.g. at hospitals, universities, industry etc) while other Environment Agency staff are involved in regulation of non-radioactive substances regulation matters at nuclear sites. While we consider our current resources for nuclear sites to be adequate, we keep them under review and will likely recruit additional resources should envisaged proposals for new nuclear build be brought forward.
|41. Are Emergency Planning Zones too small?||No. Where there is the potential for a release of radioactivity off-site from a nuclear installation requiring the implementation of countermeasures, a detailed emergency planning zone is provided. The detailed emergency planning zone is based on the most significant release of radiation from an event which can reasonably be foreseen from the installation. A reasonably foreseeable event is one that is less than likely but realistically possible.|
|42. Would it be possible to produce generic guidance covering zone sizes and what local communities should do in the event of an emergency?||The local authority's off-site emergency plan identifies the appropriate countermeasures and information is provided to local communities situated within the detailed emergency planning zone on the action to be taken in the event of an emergency. In the event of an accident being larger and even less likely than the reasonably foreseeable event, the emergency plans should be capable of being extended to cope with the event. The improbability of a large accident means that the absence of a detailed plan would not significantly increase the risk to the public. The Nuclear Emergency Planning Liaison Group (NEPLG) recommends that planners have regard to the need for sheltering out to 15km and evacuation out to 4km.|
|43. In the event of a nuclear emergency at Wylfa, we have ascertained that there is no 'evacuation' response beyond the immediate 1.5 miles. As Wylfa is on an island with limited road access, is the site not wholly inappropriate for a future new station at Wylfa?||Wylfa's emergency arrangements for on-site are tested annually as part of its nuclear site licence requirements. Anglesey's off-site emergency plan for Wylfa is tested, as required by the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001 regulated by the Health and Safety Executive's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.
A review and evaluation of the hazards and risks arising from a new nuclear power station at Wylfa will need to be completed by the duty holder and submitted to HSE-NII. HSE-NII, as part of its duties under REPPIR, will then determine whether there is a need to vary the detailed emergency planning zone, or advise a change to the planned countermeasures.
|44. As part of your assessment, is the MoD or anyone else asking the 'devil's advocate' questions?||OCNS's work is in all cases subject to both peer review and management sign off as appropriate. OCNS routinely interface with the MoD and other government organisations to better inform its decision making processes.|
|45. How and to what extent is security taken into account under GDA?||Security is fully integrated into the GDA process. Security specialists are analysing the designs to ensure new facilities will be secure and this takes into account all aspects of Protective Security.|
|46. What costs for nuclear security are being borne by the industry, e.g. assessment work.||The costs of OCNS work in assessing the candidate's designs under the GDA process is paid for by the Requesting Parties.|
|47. To what extent is OCNS operating in a way that is open and transparent?||OCNS makes available information when appropriate in line with the guidelines laid out in the 'Finding a Balance' document (www.onr.org.uk/ocns/publications.htm). The Director of Civil Nuclear Security also makes an Annual Report to the SoS on the state of security (www.onr.org.uk/ocns/publications.htm) across the civil nuclear industry.|
|48. Does OCNS take ethical advice in developing its plans, e.g. to take account of civil liberties, e.g. in dealing with peaceful protesters.
Does OCNS have an ethics and legal adviser on worker and public civil liberties with regard to OCNS/company plans?
|Any threat to a site will be dealt wit proportionately taking due account of the existing laws on Trespass.
OCNS as a part of the Health & Safety Executive Nuclear Directorate calls upon the wider services of the HSE as necessary to support its activities
|49. To what extent does security planning involve a risk analysis of military attacks (e.g. attacks by sea and from the air)? To what extent does the Government take these plans into account and is there Parliamentary Scrutiny of the plans?||OCNS does not disclose information that could be valuable to a terrorist.
The security arrangements put in place at any installation take account all perceived threats, which are developed across Government.
|50. Regarding terrorist action such as aircraft impact or use of explosives/weapons against nuclear waste flask transports, who is responsible for risk assessment of these, what methodologies are used, and are these methodologies open to public scrutiny?||Flasks used for the transport of nuclear material are an established technology used worldwide and as such, they have been subject to many different types of crash and other testing to determine their suitability for use. Risk assessments are conducted by the flask vendors and nuclear operators and flask approvals are given by national competent authorities, which in the UK is the DTp.|
|51. What independent security review will be used to test the robustness of security plans?||Security Plans are subject to regular testing and exercising overseen by the Regulators. As required in the past, if considered appropriate, independent reviews can be carried out, for example by the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure (CPNI).|
|52. Does OCNS accept that "it is unreasonable to assume institutional control" for longer than e.g. a century (US standard)? And therefore insist on no security risks lasting longer than a specific time?||Security in terms of threats and technologies to overcome such challenges are changing over time and are reviewed regularly. It is a function of OCNS as the Government Regulator, to ensure that at all times security arrangements in place at sites are appropriate given the current security risk.|
|53. If industry pays some of the security costs of the service you are providing to them, then how can you ensure 'independence'? If tax payers pay the rest then does this represent a subsidy to the nuclear industry?||OCNS, as the independent regulator for security in the civil nuclear industry, recovers the majority of its costs from industry. As far as its involvement in the GDA process is concerned, the Requesting Parties pay these costs. The Director of Civil Nuclear Security regulates security in the civil nuclear industry on behalf of the SoS for DECC and is answerable to ministers.|
|54. Who regulates the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and to whom is it answerable?||OCNS regulates all matters pertaining to nuclear security. In addition, HMIC and the NPIA oversee the CNC on specific police matters. The CNC is also obliged to follow relevant ACPO Guidance. The Nuclear Security Force comprises two elements - civilian guards and the CNC. Civilian guards are answerable to the relevant Site Licensee. The CNC is answerable, via the Chief Constable, to the Civil Nuclear Police Authority.|
|55. Who pays for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and what are the costs?||Site Licensees pay for both the civilian and the CNC elements of the security force operating at their sites. The Civil Nuclear Police Authority's annual report and accounts can be found at www.cnpa.police.uk|
|56. Does the Civil Nuclear Constabulary operate off-site in public areas?||Yes. Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) Officers carry the same powers as regular Home Office forces and The Energy Act 2004 sets out the powers of members to the CNC.
The powers and privileges of a Police Constable are as follows;
|57. How will OCNS work with Trades Unions - not just emergency services - to ensure appropriate responses to an accident or attack?||It has been the policy of the Director of Civil Nuclear Security for the last five years to discuss with trade union representatives any security issue that might be of potential concern to the workforce. The Director always welcomes the opportunity for such discussions.|
|58. Does OCNS consult category 1 responders (Civil Contingencies Act) on emergency plans around nuclear sites? How much do civilian staff get involved in planning?||No. However, we expect the sites to consult as the response to incidents, including security incidents, is a site responsibility.
All site staff involved in emergency planning are civilians.
|59. What strategy/process is in place to ensure legitimate peaceful protesters are treated as such and not as potential 'terrorists'?||Any threat to a site will be dealt with proportionately taking due account of the existing laws on Trespass|
|60. Will OCNS publish the NIMCA document?||No. This is a protectively marked document.|
|61. How much overlap is there between OCNS and emergency planning to deal with impact of terrorist attack and accident?||Site emergency planning officers are closely involved in planning and implementing Site Security Exercises.|
|62. Military and civil aircraft regularly fly around Wylfa with a major RAF base nearby. What secondary containment is planned in the development of new nuclear stations to address accident or terrorist attack by air?||The effect of an aircraft impact into either of the two designs is being considered as part of the GDA assessment|
|63. Given it's been discovered EPR are not proof against airliner being flown into reactor what are plans for preventing it happening.||The effect of an aircraft impact into either of the two designs is being considered as part of the GDA assessment|
|64. Is the CO2 cost from the security arrangements being built into the cost of electricity generated?||The costs for all security applied at a site is paid for by the Site Licensee as are the costs of regulation.|
|65. Will your Step 3 consultation be carried out in accordance with Government guidelines?||As noted in our Process and Information Document for GDA, we will consult widely with other regulators, Government Departments and bodies, non-governmental organisations, other interested bodies and the public. We will notify consultees by appropriate means, including public notices and newspapers. If, at the time we are preparing our consultation, information is available about where new nuclear power stations might be sited, we will ensure that our consultation documents are well publicised in those localities. We aim to undertake consultation in accordance with HMG Code of Practice on Consultation.|
|66. How will you ensure that GDA will be meaningful to the general public?||A meaningful GDA will be one where:
|67. Isn't the existence of a public enquiry, where experts can be questioned on their findings, essential if you really want public involvement?||The emphasis of the new planning regime is examination through written representation which isn't intended to be simply that people submit their evidence and that is it but rather that the commissioners test that evidence and ask questions or probe aspects of it. All representations will be made available so that others have an opportunity to comment on them. The examination of written representations can be supported by inquisitorial hearings on specific issues where again it is the commissioners that ask the questions. Cross examination may also be used where it is deemed by the commissioners to be the most appropriate way of examining the evidence. How a particular application is going to be examined and whether there will be specific hearings or cross examination etc will be set out in the procedural decision that will be issued at or shortly after the preliminary meeting where such matters will be discussed.|
|68. What mechanism do you have in place to ensure that external expert advice and queries can be submitted and taken into account by the NII and Environment Agency assessors?||There is a mechanism in place for people to provide comments on the detailed design information via the Requesting Parties' websites. In addition, people send us comments direct via letter and e-mail on all aspects of the GDA process. All comments relevant to our assessment are taken into account by our technical assessors and are used to inform our judgements. In addition to this, the Environment Agency will be conducting a public consultation as part of GDA. In addition, regulators have been working closely with specialists from overseas regulatory bodies and have taken their advice into account.|
|69. How are you helping population of UK to understand what GDA is and implications to health and safety?||The joint HSE/Environment Agency new build website contains a lot of information about the GDA process, including the guidance we use to manage the GDA process, our technical assessment reports and regular updates. In addition, we issue regular eBulletins and also press releases to announce significant developments.
When we launched the GDA process, we issued a number of press advertisements and sent leaflets to all public libraries.
|70. What is your strategy for 'involving the public' in GDA? What is your definition of the 'public'?||By the public, we mean any person who is not a member of the regulatory body.
We have undertaken extensive stakeholder analysis and identified a number of sub-sets. Two of these relate to members of the public - one sub-set refers specifically to communities living within a 25 mile radius of sites that have been nominated and the other refers to the wider public.
There are three main elements to our stakeholder engagement and communications strategy; publishing information (primarily on our new build website); inviting comments (including an Environment Agency consultation on GDA); and engaging directly with stakeholders (via meetings and events). The strategy is in the process of being revised in the light of experience to-date and will be published on the new build website shortly.
The Environment Agency is currently developing a stakeholder engagement plan specifically for its consultation on GDA and this will be published on the new-build website.
We will inform members of the public about our consultation and explain how they can get involved should they choose to.
The type of engagement will range from attending local action/interest groups to writing to town and parish councils and making our consultation available on-line.
|71. What are you doing to engage with other groups interested in nuclear new build, e.g. potential site communities?||See answer to Question 75.|
|72. How can the regulators engage with the public when the overall new build programme isn't properly integrated?||Overall integration of National Nuclear Policy is overseen by DECC. Regulators engage with the public as described at Q70.|
|73. Will the level of openness and public involvement applied to GDA also be applied to the site licensing phase?||HSE recognise the importance of openness and transparency and public involvement and is currently developing its strategy for at all sites it regulates, including those where requests for a nuclear site licence may be made.|
|74. Are "shareholders" views prioritised over the public's questions and concerns?||No, we take all comments we receive seriously.|
|75. How will you widen stakeholder engagement? Site stakeholder groups have a specific focus, which is narrower than new build. Will you be engaging with wider stakeholders, e.g. Trades Unions, Women's groups, young people?||We already engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including Government, industry, NGOs, professional bodies, other regulators, etc.
The Environment Agency is in the process of developing a stakeholder engagement plan for GDA and this will set out how we plan to engage with local communities and other stakeholders. This autumn, a letter is being sent to local authorities, including town and parish councils, local interest groups and other local stakeholder, explaining the Environment Agency's role in new-build and giving early notice of our GDA consultation. It also asks stakeholders how would they like to be kept informed or involved.
Please also refer to the answer provided to question 70.
|76. Are the "views" expressed by concerned lay people, such as those attending this event, seen as a useful critique to move the regulatory process forward - or - dumped in the box called "opinion"?||We take all comments we receive seriously.|
|77. Under GDA, how do you take account of engineering and human failures?||Both human and engineering system failures are analysed extensively in deterministic safety analysis (DSA) and probabilistic safety analysis (PSA). DSA and PSA are different but complementary views of how systems can fail because of either engineering failures, human failures or a combination of both. As an example Design Basis Accident Analysis (DBAA is a part of DSA) requires the licensee to undertake a pessimistic analysis of all faults that are reasonably foreseeable during the life of a reactor (down to a frequency of one in a hundred thousand reactor years). For example most modern nuclear power plants have four divisions of safety system equipment. Even though the availability of modern safety systems is very high in DBAA an assumption is made that one of the Divisions will be unavailable due to maintenance when the accident occurs. A second pessimistic assumption is that there will be a coincident failure of one of the Divisions also when the accident occurs. A third pessimistic assumption is that the Division of safety equipment in which the accident occurs is also assumed to fail even though these systems are designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions. The objective of the DBAA analysis is to show that the NPP will remain safe even under these very challenging conditions. The above is just one of many types of analysis undertaken to ensure that under a very wide range of human and system failures the nuclear power plant will remain safe.|
|78. Climate change will have an impact on sites as well as transportation routes. Will climate change estimates be taken into account in considering site-specific proposals and who will pay?||The potential impact of climate change will be taken into account in considering any proposed new nuclear power stations. We would expect that costs of new flood defences or improvements to existing defences would primarily fall to the developer.|
|79. To what extent does GDA take into account the ageing of reactor design components?||Ageing is being considered as part of GDA. Different technical topics will have their own aspects to consider. Our Safety Assessment Principles (SAPs) has a section on Ageing and Degradation which includes five Principles. The best way to illustrate our approach is to give some examples.
During its life the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) is gradually embrittled due to neutrons. Our Structural Integrity assessment will check if the Requesting Parties are: a) controlling the composition of the RPV materials to reduce the level of embrittlement; b) considering the effects of core design of the embrittlement of the RPV, c) installing adequate numbers of surveillance specimens in the RPV to get measurements of the actual behaviour of the RPV. These specimens see higher neutron levels than the actual RPV so provide advanced information on the material property changes.
A second example is that of cables for electrical power and instrumentation. A considerable amount research into the effects of ageing has been undertaken on cables of all sizes and type. This has included reviewing real plant data from all industrial sectors and through laboratory experiments simulating rapid ageing. This has led to a very good knowledge of the operational life of these components and good information on inspection and testing regimes to ensure that any developing age related changes are detected well ahead of them becoming a safety challenge. We make use of this type of knowledge when assign the reactor designs.
|80. What has been learned from your study of the EPR design in Finland?||We have been working with the Finnish regulator (STUK) to obtain first-hand feedback of their regulation of assessment, licensing and construction of EPR and we take this into account in our GDA assessment.|
|81. If the Environment Agency is the authorising body for a geological disposal facility, then won't issuing an Environmental Permit after GDA be pre-empting GDF authorisation? Why not hold back the new-build licenses until a satisfactory site is available for the long-term disposal of nuclear waste?||The Environment Agency is one of the key regulators who would be involved in considering and permitting, if suitable, proposals for a GDF. We will consider each application made to us on its merits, whether for a new nuclear power station or a GDF and in what ever order they come to us.|
|82. What is the regulators' response to Hugh Richards' presentation on managing higher burn-up fuel, i.e. the challenge of storing spent fuel that could be at a higher temperature and be more reactive (gamma and neutrons) than at present? Will you be publishing that response?||Regulators will assess the design proposals for management handling and storage of the fuel that will be used in these reactors. Our assessment reports will be published as part of the suite of GDA technical reports.
In GDA we are assessing new nuclear power stations and this will include safe storage of wastes pending final disposal.
|83. Can you provide reassurance that disposition of radionuclides can be managed over the long term, e.g. 50,000 years?||An appropriate security plan would be developed to secure any such fuel|
|84. Are discharges averaged over the whole fuel cycle, e.g. to take into account re-fuelling?||Discharges are typically reported by the Operator on a monthly basis against an annual (12 month rolling) limit. Assuming an 18 or 24 month refuelling schedule "actual" annual discharges might or might not therefore include a refuelling outage. In assessing a new nuclear power station's proposed discharges we would require the applicants submission to include provision for refuelling and for other events that would be expected to occur over the lifetime of the station.|
|85. Do discharge limits take into account additive effects (and prevailing wind)?||Yes, these issues are discussed at the National Dose Assessment Working Group.|
|86. How could you give approval for a new nuclear power station when a long-term waste solution has not been agreed?||We are pleased that Government is progressing with its MRWS programme as a GDF is required whether or not new nuclear build goes ahead. In assessing proposals as part of GDA, or as site specific applications, the regulators will consider the disposability of the waste and spent fuel and their proposed management arrangements until a GDF becomes available.|
|87. Given the problems associated with aging, will you require operators to build back-up cooling ponds for spent fuel?||In GDA we will look to see that there is an appropriate strategy for management of spent fuel, and for consideration of ageing. There is no regulatory requirement to have a 'back up' cooling pond.
From a security perspective, all holdings of spent fuel, whether in primary or back-up facilities, will have appropriate security measures in place as detailed in security plans approved by OCNS.
|88. What spent fuel (if any) can be disposed safely in a repository (still to be designed, located in UK geology)?||RPs have sought disposability advice from the NDA and we will look at this during GDA to confirm that the spent fuel from these reactors can be disposed of. See Q90.|
|89. Is "unmanageable" determined relative to capacity of society in the future, 100 yrs and more in future? Does this accept possible institutional breakdown at 100yrs in the future?||It will be many years before a geological disposal facility is available to accept radioactive waste (assumed to be 2040). In the meantime safe and secure interim storage of radioactive waste and spent fuel is carefully controlled by the regulators.
Existing stores for waste packages are typically designed to provide a service life of 50 100 years. These stores will have their service lives extended as required, in order to provide sufficient safe and secure interim storage throughout the geological disposal facility development programme.
The duration of the operation phase of the geological disposal facility programme will be determined by a number of technical and economic factors, including the lifetime of interim surface stores and the rate of emptying, as well as factors such as the decommissioning strategies for nuclear power stations. Once the waste packages are in the geological disposal facility it will be for the regulators and the local community to determine when to close this facility. A notional period of 10 years has been included in the design assumption for backfilling, sealing and closure.
|90. Why don't the Requesting Parties provide their own disposability assessment?||The RPs are preparing their own assessments of waste and fuel management. As part of this work they have contracted with NDA-RWMD, who are custodians of the design concept for a disposal facility, to provide advice on the suitability of proposals for conditioning higher-activity waste (including spent fuel) for future disposal. This procedure is similar to the Letter of Compliance process used by licensees at existing sites (see "The management of higher activity radioactive waste on nuclear licensed sites: Part 1 The regulatory Process" www.onr.org.uk/wastemanage.htm).
The advice of the NDA's Radioactive Waste Management Directorate (RWMD) is based on standards derived from RWMD's geological disposal concept, but it is also compatible with a range of other possible long-term management options.
ND, the Environment Agency and SEPA recognise RWMD as the appropriate body to advise licensees on the packaging and conditioning of radioactive wastes. Such advice will continue to be provided through RWMD's Letter of Compliance (LoC) process.
LoC is a term used by NDA to describe a written assessment of whether a proposed waste package would be suitable for geological disposal.
|91. Who decides if 'safe storage' is 'safe'? What criteria? What proof? What public input?||HSE will assess the storage proposals against its safety assessment principles. There is a public input process during GDA.|
|92. How certain is magnox reprocessing at Sellafield to enable Sizewell A to restart removing fuel in August?||The closure programme for the magnox reactors and reprocessing at Sellafield of the magnox fuel from the magnox reactors is called the Magnox Operating Programme and there is coordinated management of the programme by the licensees: Sellafield Ltd, Magnox North Ltd and Magnox South Ltd. The NDA's published document: "The Magnox Operating Programme (MOP 8)" recognises that there is uncertainty in reprocessing performance at Sellafield, and this may prevent completion of the MOP in time to meet the Government's commitment to comply with OSPAR in 2020 (basically, to achieve near zero discharges into the sea). The Regulators (EA/HSE) are active in regulating the MOP, and we challenge and check assumptions, and also advise the licensees. We are satisfied that there is adequate management of the MOP and that the MOP is a good plan. The discussions between Regulators, Licensees and the NDA often are concerned with uncertainties in reprocessing,and what can be done to mitigate the risk so as to ensure as far as possible that reprocessing continues to deliver the MOP both safely and with due regard to the environment.|
|93. Is it true that RWMD cannot foresee nor give any sort of assurance on disposability of spent fuel as they are not visionaries and do not have the information available to make such predictions required for assurances?||An important aspect of the generic design assessment (GDA) process is the consideration of the disposability of the higher activity solid radioactive wastes and spent fuel that would be generated through reactor operation. Consequently, regulators have indicated that requesting parties should obtain and provide a view from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) (as the authoritative source in the UK for providing such advice) on the disposability in a Geological Disposal Facility of any proposed arisings of higher activity wastes or spent fuel.
NDA-RWMD has undertaken GDA Disposability Assessments for the higher activity wastes and spent fuel expected to arise from the operation of an EPR and an AP1000 reactor.
RWMD has concluded that, compared with legacy wastes and existing spent fuel, no new issues arise that challenge the fundamental disposability of the wastes and spent fuel expected to arise from operation of such reactors.
Also see response to Q.90.
|94. If the GDA is approved without a specified repository being approved, is the decision sustainable?||GDA is an assessment of reactor designs. This is not dependent on 'approval' of a repository.
GDA will consider the disposability of the waste and spent fuel that would be produced by any new nuclear power stations.
|95. Does the GDA team dispute the US standard: "unreasonable to assume institutional control" lasts longer than 100 yrs? If so, will it require passive safety of everything by such a time?||See Q89|
|96. When will the regulators decide on their spent fuel storage options?||Regulators will assess the proposals that RPs make during GDA. Deciding on spent fuel storage options is a matter for the RPs and the future site licensees.|
|97. EDF are considering a range of waste disposal options. To what extent are the options consistent with GDA and other facilitative actions, e.g. Justification?||EDF and AREVA UK EPR™ Reactor's submissions for GDA identify a number of potential options for managing waste and spent fuel and so will be considered as part of GDA. It would be for a potential developer to come forward with site specific proposals for how they intend to manage and dispose of their radioactive waste and spent fuel and for the regulators to consider these to ensure that they were acceptable. Government would also have to consider these proposals, having regard to the Energy Act 2008 requirement that operators must have an approved Funded Decommissioning and Waste Management Programme (FDWP). The potential developer would have to show that their plans were consistent with the Government's FDWP base case, or to substantiate alternative proposals. In our view, Regulatory Justification is primarily a high level process dealing with benefits and detriments - the options we have seen proposed by EDF and AREVA UK EPR™ Reactor would appear to have similar benefits and detrimens.|
|98. What is the view of the GDA on the ageing problem, especially in regard to the corrosion resistance of Inconel 690 as a substitute for Inconel 600?||It is recognised worldwide that Inconel 600 has been a problem for steam generator tubing and other reactor components such as reactor heads. For both of the designs under consideration in GDA Inconel 600 has been replaced by Inconel 690. As part of our assessment during Step 3 we have considered the performance of Inconel 690 and this is detailed in our Structural Integrity topic reports which will be available at the end of Step 3. The overall conclusion is that Inconel 690 has performed much better in service than Inconel 600 and is suitable for the new designs. It should also be noted that both designs have the capability to replace items such as the steam generators if unexpected degradation occurs during the 60 year life.|
|99. In CO2 costing, which phases of nuclear power and "nuclear fuel cycle" are taken into account; and can we see figures for each of these||In the cost benefit analysis of nuclear power that formed part of the nuclear white paper the full life-cycle emissions of nuclear power were considered. The analysis estimated these life-cycle emissions to be in the region of 7-22g per kW/h. These estimates were based on reports by the IAEA and NEA
|100. What "ethical issues" were taken into account during the public consultation on nuclear power in 2007? [Q3 June 2008 seminar]||The consultation (para 8.52) identified the key ethical question was whether to create new waste. The White Paper concluded (page 99) that the balance of ethical considerations did not rule out the option of new nuclear power stations.|
|101. Isn't there a requirement not only to ensure that risks are "as low as reasonably practicable" but also that they are below some absolute threshold? If not, doesn't this prejudicially assume that a solution with acceptable risk is certain to be found? [Q10 June 2008 seminar]||The law places broad general duties on those who are best placed to do something about preventing or controlling the risks. The broad duties are supplemented by specific regulations. Many of these regulations place absolute duties on duty holders. Others, however, like the broad general duties are qualified by expressions such as 'so far as is reasonably practicable' (SFAIRP) in order to avoid the imposition of duties that no one can fulfil - because absolute safety cannot be guaranteed - and in order to ensure that preventive and protective actions are commensurate with the risks. It is useful to note that SFAIRP is not the only qualification. There are other similar qualifications such as 'as low as reasonably practicable' (ALARP); 'as low as reasonably achievable' (ALARA). The general approach is to set out the objectives to be achieved and to give considerable choice to duty holders as to the measures they should put in place to meet these objectives.
The approach to the assessment of risk in GDA is the same as in other regulatory work. HSE's decision-making process is described in the document "Reducing risks, protecting people" (R2P2) (www.hse.gov.uk/risk/theory/r2p2.pdf). The framework in R2P2 is represented as an inverted triangle with increasing level of 'risk' for a particular hazardous activity (measured by the individual risk and societal concerns it engenders) as we move from the bottom of the triangle towards the top. The bottom of the triangle is the broadly acceptable region while the top of the triangle represents an unacceptable region. For practical purposes, a particular risk falling into the unacceptable region is regarded as unacceptable whatever the level of benefits associated with the activity. Any activity or practice giving rise to risks falling in that region would, as a matter of principle, be ruled out unless the activity or practice can be modified to reduce the degree of risk so that it falls in one of the regions below, or there are exceptional reasons for the activity or practice to be retained. Further discussion on how we apply this framework is given below.
We use the SAPs as the guidance to our inspectors in making their judgements about ALARP. The SAPs include a section describing the numerical targets and legal limits that inspectors should use when judging whether the dutyholder is controlling radiological hazards adequately and reducing risks ALARP. In assessing the safety of nuclear facilities, inspectors should examine the safety case to judge the extent to which targets are achieved and legal limits met. Some of the targets are in the form of dose levels; others are expressed as frequencies or risks. The Basic Safety Level (BSL) and the Basic Safety Objective (BSO) are used in translating the R2P2 framework into targets. The BSO marks the start of the broadly acceptable level in R2P2.
The targets and legal limits are defined for normal operations, design basis analysis, individual risk and societal risk. The targets are not mandatory. However, some of the BSLs are legal limits. The targets are guides to inspectors to indicate where there is the need for consideration of additional safety measures. It is HSE's policy that a new facility or activity should at least meet the BSLs. However, in meeting the BSLs the risks may not be ALARP. The application of ALARP may drive risks lower. Deciding when the level of risk is ALARP needs to be made on a case-by-case basis. A proportionate approach should be used so that the higher the risk, the greater is the degree of disproportion needed before being considered ALARP, and a more robust argument would be needed to justify not implementing additional safety measures. As has been said above any activity or practice giving rise to risks above the BSLs would, as a matter of principle, be ruled out unless there exceptional reasons for the activity or practice to be retained. This would be very unlikely for a newly designed reactor.
|102. How is the risk of "non-accidental aircraft impact" assessed? How is the risk of use of explosives and weapons against transports of nuclear waste (spent fuel flasks) assessed? (The first part of Q28 is relevant here, but was not answered). [Q10 June 2008 seminar]||The protection against all types of malicious attack, including aircraft impact, will be assessed during the GDA. The details of this work is protectively marked (classified) and will be protected accordingly.|
|103. Why are the flasks (used to carry spent fuel) not tested for the full range of conditions that can reasonably be forseen? (The drop test is for 9 metres but the routes include viaducts much above 9 metres. The fire test is 800 degrees C for 30 minutes, but there have been fires in tunnels at temperatures well above that and for much longer periods). [Q17 June 2008 seminar]||The accident test conditions specified in the Transport Regulations are intended to simulate severe accidents in terms of the damaging effects on the package, not the to replicate actual accident scenarios. The tests will produce damage exceeding that arising in the vast majority of incidents recorded. By example the 9m drop test is onto an unyielding target thereby transferring all the impact energy to the package and increasing the damage caused. This is in contrast to an actual impact accident in which the object that the package impacts (the target) would be yielding and thus absorbs some of the impact energy thereby reducing the damage to the package.|
|104. The allowed maximum speed of the trains carrying spent fuel has been raised from 45mph to 60mph, nearly doubling the maximum energy of an impact - where has this been factored into the risk analysis? [Q17 June 2008 seminar]||The spent fuel flasks are designed and tested to withstand regulatory impacts onto unyielding targets which produce damage exceeding the vast majority of incidents recorded whether or not a package of radioactive material was involved. The speed of the train is only one factor as demonstrated by the CEGB train crash test in 1984 in which a train travelling at 100 mph impacted a spent fuel flask which was placed on the rail track. The diesel locomotive was destroyed but the spent fuel flask survived and retained its leak tightness.|
|105. How often is the state of the track checked, over the whole of the routes? [Q17]||Network Rail, as the national rail infrastructure owner, is responsible for ensuring the network is maintained in a condition which is safe for the passage of trains. This includes inspection of the tracks, in accordance with Network Rail standard NR/SP/TRK/001 'Inspection and Maintenance of Permanent Way'. The standard adopts a risk based approach to the periodicity of track inspection, which takes account of a number of factors, including the type of traffic and intensity of use. Inspections of the track are carried out using train borne measuring and detection equipment, as well as by track maintenance staff carrying out visual checks. Questions on the detailed inspection and maintenance arrangements for particular routes should be addressed to Network Rail.|
|106. Is there a requirement to make clear to the public the long term nature of spent fuel/waster storage? If not, how can the making public of this information be ensured? [Q21 June 2008 seminar]||The Government's consultation on the draft Nuclear National Policy Statement includes material on the arrangements for the management and disposal of waste from new nuclear power stations - see https://www.energynpsconsultation.decc.gov.uk/|
|107. How could the GDA assessment not impact on regulation of existing sites when the NII was already understaffed? [ Q35 June 2008 seminar]||NII regularly review staffing levels to ensure that specialist resources are deployed consistent with priorities for nuclear safety. See Q40. The Environment Agency established a new team to undertake GDA, to ensure that regulation of the existing sites was not affected.|