Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Approval of increased fuel irradiation limits to allow robust fuel to be loaded into the Heysham 2 power station reactors

License Instrument no 561

Permission requested

British Energy, the owner and operator (known as the licensee) of Heysham 2 power station, has requested permission from Directorate to amend operating rules relating to increased fuel irradiation limits, so that robust fuel may be loaded into reactors at Heysham 2 Nuclear Power Station. This request is in line with the licensees responsibility as set out in its nuclear site licence (licence condition 23).


Fuel for advanced gas cooled reactors (AGRs) has been modified slightly to take on board changes to its manufacturing route and to add features that are known to improve fuel performance. The new design, called robust fuel, is described and its use justified in a safety case (NP/SC 7439). The safety case and associated changes in operating rules for increased fuel irradiation limits effectively allowing fuel to remain longer in the reactor before being discharged and replaced by new fuel have been endorsed by the licensees internal regulator and its independent Nuclear Safety Committee members.

Robust fuel may not be used in the sites reactors until amendments are made to Heysham 2 Technical Specification Nuclear Safety Requirements (NSRs) 2 and 9 (operating rules); these require HSE Approval.

Assessment and inspection work carried out by ND in consideration of this request

The proposal has been assessed by Directorate fault study, fuel behaviour, fuel route handling, criticality specialists and the site inspector and found to be acceptable.

Matters that arose from NDs work and outcome of NDs consideration

There are no regulatory issues or concerns.


This proposal has undergone technical review within the licensees organisation and it has been subjected to Directorate assessment. There is no technical or regulatory reason that prevents HSE approval of requested NSR amendments that allow robust fuel to be loaded into the Heysham 2 reactors.


HSE Approval of amendments to Technical Specification NSRs 2 and 9, which allow robust fuel to be loaded into the Heysham 2 power station reactors, should be given by issuing licence instrument 561.