Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Periodic Safety Review (PSR) of the Heysham 1 and Hartlepool Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor nuclear power stations

The Health and Safety Executive has published a report on the Periodic Safety Review (PSR) of the Heysham 1 & Hartlepool Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor nuclear power stations 1. This report gives a more detailed account of the decision, originally announced in February 1999, to allow these power stations to continue in operation for a further 10 years.

The PSR was carried out by the licensee for the two stations, British Energy Generation Ltd (BEGL). All nuclear licensees are required periodically to carry out major safety reviews as a condition of their site licences and to satisfy NII that the safety of their sites remains adequate for continued operation. Topics addressed by these reviews include reactor safety systems, reactor pressure boundary and internals, operating history and the treatment of hazards such as earthquake and fire. Also covered are topics such as refuelling and waste management, plant ageing, human factors and radiation doses.

An initial report summarising the NII assessment findings for the PSR of Heysham 1 & Hartlepool was issued as a technical annex to a press statement in February 1999 (E013:99 01/02/1999). That gave NII's overall conclusions on the acceptability for continued operation. This report provides a more detailed discussion of the main findings. In the interim period BEGL has continued to make progress on the identified further work.

Under a condition attached to the nuclear site licence, PSRs are required to be carried out by the licensee of a nuclear power plant. The reviews are complementary to the day-to-day regulatory controls which are applied to nuclear power stations. They provide the opportunity to undertake a comprehensive study of the safety of the plant, taking into account aspects such as its operational history, ageing factors which could lead to a deterioration in safety and the advances in safety standards since the time of construction or the previous review. From this, the safety of future operation of the plant can be evaluated. The reviews are submitted to the NII for its consideration and assessment to evaluate whether an adequate level of safety has been achieved.

NII is satisfied that the licensee has completed a detailed scrutiny of the safety of the nuclear power stations. Improvements to the plant, which the licensee had initiated in advance of the review, have enhanced the safety of the stations, bringing the design closer to current standards. The overall outcome of the licensee's review, together with the programmes of additional modifications and inspections which have been put in place, provide confidence in the ability of these stations to continue to operate safely.

Nevertheless, NII has also identified the need for some further work, and programmes for this have been agreed with BEGL, which it intends to complete in the year 2002. Subject to the completion of this work, and continuing satisfactory results from the routine monitoring and demonstrations of safety required under the nuclear site licensing arrangements, we are confident that the Heysham 1 & Hartlepool nuclear power stations can continue to operate safely at least until the end of 2008, at which time a further safety review will be required.

Heysham 1 is situated on the Lancashire Coast to the south of Morecambe and near the port of Heysham. Hartlepool Power Station is situated on the mouth of the Tees estuary on the north east coast approximately 3 miles (5km) south of Hartlepool. They were originally owned and operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board. On privatisation of the electricity supply industry in 1990, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool together with all the CEGB's nuclear assets were transferred to Nuclear Electric plc, remaining in government hands until 1996 when it was transferred to Nuclear Electric Ltd., a subsidiary of British Energy plc which was privatised later the same year. Following reorganisation and name changes which took effect on 1 January 1999, Nuclear Electric Ltd. is now known as British Energy Generation Ltd.

The Advanced Gas-Cooled (AGR) reactor design is unique to the UK. The principal design features of the AGRs are a pre-stressed concrete pressure vessel, enriched uranium dioxide fuel in a ceramic form which is contained within stainless steel clad pins in a graphite core, all cooled by high pressure carbon dioxide gas. Seven AGR power stations were constructed on sites in England and Scotland in the 1970s and 1980s.

Safety has been reviewed and assessed at Heysham I and Hartlepool in tandem because they share a common design and were built and commissioned in parallel. This review is the first major safety review of the Heysham 1 & Hartlepool Power Stations and is a continuation of a series of standback safety reviews of UK nuclear power reactors that are carried out at 10 year intervals, in line with international practice. The results of the first AGR Periodic Safety Reviews, on Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B Nuclear Power Stations and on Dungeness B2, were published by NII in 1997 and 1998 respectively. PSRs of the AGR stations at Heysham 2 and Torness are currently being assessed by NII to an agreed programme.


Footnotes

NUC 16

'Heysham 1 and Hartlepool Nuclear Power Stations : The findings of NII's assessment of British Energy's periodic safety review' available free of charge from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS.

NUC 10

'Hinkley Point B & Hunterston B Nuclear Power Stations : The findings of NII's assessment of Nuclear Electric's and Scottish Nuclear's periodic safety reviews' is available free of charge from available free of charge from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS.

NUC 14

'Dungeness B Nuclear Power Station : The findings of NII's assessment of Nuclear Electric's periodic safety review ' is available free of charge from available free of charge from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 6FS.


This page was written 12th November 1999