Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Approval of increased fuel irradiation limits to allow robust fuel to be loaded into the reactors at Hartlepoolpower station

License Instrument no 539

Permission requested

British Energy, the owner and operator (known as the licensee) of Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station, has requested permission from Directorate (ND) to amend operating rules relating to increased fuel irradiation limits, so that robust fuel may be loaded into reactors at Hartlepool. 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 an amendment is made to Hartlepools operating rules which require Approval from ND.

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

This proposal has been assessed by ND specialists in fault studies, fuel behaviour, fuel route handling, and criticality, in addition to NDs site inspector for Hartlepool, and was 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 ND assessment. There is no technical or regulatory reason that prevents Approval from HSE of requested amendments to nuclear safety rules (NSRs) that allow robust fuel to be loaded into the Hartlepool reactors.


HSE Approval of amendments to Technical Specification NSR 2, which allow robust fuel to be loaded into the Hartlepool power station reactors, should be given by issuing Licence Instrument 539.