Safety first - the UK European Pressurised Reactor

Materials World magazine
9 Feb 2013

Ever since 2007, when EDF Energy and AREVA submitted a joint application to build a new type of nuclear reactor in the UK, the complex design of the UK European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) has been the subject of intense scrutiny.

The EPR is the first new nuclear reactor design to be accepted for use in the UK for 25 years. Subject to the right investment framework, EDF Energy has published plans to build two EPRs at Hinkley Point C, in Somerset, and two at Sizewell C, in Suffolk.

After 850,000 hours of meticulous planning and engineering research, on 13 December 2012 the EPR design was finally certified safe and robust by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency. During the ONR’s five-year generic design assessment (GDA) process, several aspects of the design were altered to ensure the reactor meets the UK’s high standards of safety, security, environmental protection and waste management. With real momentum behind the Hinkley Point C project, the provision of low-carbon, safe electricity is within the nation’s sights.

An evolution of existing nuclear technology, the reactor embodies experience from French and German designs, and comprises a number of diverse systems that ensure safe shutdown of the reactor in the event of any fault. While this makes the chances of a severe accident leading to core melt extremely remote, the unit is also designed to contain such an event and minimise any environmental consequences.

Download the PDF for a closer look at how the EPR design reflects the lessons learnt from Fukushima.