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International collaboration - assessment of new nuclear power stations

The design and construction of new nuclear power stations is a global activity. Any nuclear power station built in the UK is likely to be similar to power stations being proposed or built in many countries around the world.

When we assess any new nuclear power station design, we will take account of international good practice, international standards and the assessments undertaken by overseas nuclear regulators. We will do so by working with the nuclear regulators of other countries (bilateral collaboration) and international bodies (multilateral collaboration).

Bilateral collaboration

ONR has formal information exchange arrangements to facilitate greater international co-operation with the nuclear safety regulators in a number of key countries with civil nuclear power programmes. These include:

  • the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
  • the French LAutorit de sret nuclaire (ASN)
  • the Finnish STUK
  • the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority 

This includes the exchange of technical information and in some cases the exchange of personnel, information and training.

Multilateral collaboration

We collaborate through the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The OECD is an intergovernmental organisation of industrialised countries, of which the NEA is a specialised agency. The NEA has three programmes or groups specifically dealing with new civil reactor build.

The NEA provides the secretariat for the Multinational Design Evaluation Programme (MDEP), which is working to harmonise future standards and inspection practices, and shares the results of assessments carried out by the national nuclear regulators. Membership includes the UK, Canada, Finland, France, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States. 

The Committee on Nuclear Regulatory Activities (CNRA) is the committee set up to guide the NEA's programme covering the regulation, licensing and inspection of nuclear installations with regard to safety. This working group examines the regulatory issues around the siting, licensing and regulatory oversight of new nuclear power station designs.

The working group on the regulation of new reactors focuses in particular on construction inspection issues and shares its experience with the other groups working under the aegis of the CNRA. Membership includes the UK, Sweden, Finland, France, Japan, Spain, and the United States.

The best available techniques group is an expert group under the Committee for Radiation Protection and Public Health. This working group is examining:

  • Reactor types and historic discharge knowledge to provide comparisons with proposed new reactors;
  • The radiological and conventional impacts of achieving benchmark discharge limits/targets across the full lifecycles of the new reactors.
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