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Energy: Nuclear Reactors

Volume 712: debated on Thursday 2 July 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how security is defined for the civil nuclear sector; and whether it takes into account risks associated with proposed new-build nuclear reactors. [HL4201]

The determining factors that contribute to defining security at a licensed civil nuclear site are: the threat, the consequences of the loss or dispersal of nuclear material, and the UK’s international obligations.

Security in the civil nuclear industry is subject to regulation which reflects the international obligations and best practice. The Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) regulates the civil nuclear industry by means of the Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003 (NISR), which makes provision for the protection of nuclear material, both on sites and in transit, against the risks of theft and sabotage, and for the protection of sensitive nuclear information.

Security measures in the civil nuclear industry are applied in a graduated manner in accordance with the severity of the threat and the level of consequence of a successful attack in a manner that provides defence in depth. OCNS may give directions to the nuclear operators at any time, for instance in the light of a change in the threat level for the industry. This is aided by OCNS being an active member of the UK intelligence community.

Any new licensed nuclear sites would need to satisfy the demanding requirements of the NISR. OCNS will ensure that security measures are included in plans for the construction of any new nuclear power station from the outset. Doing so will avoid the need to retrofit security measures once construction is under way. This will also enable regulators to make an early judgment on the most appropriate measures for any construction site. This will help ensure that security is ingrained into practices at any site from day one. The Government are confident that this approach will ensure that security measures will continue to be robust and effective.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what progress is being made in securing approval by regulators of generic nuclear reactor designs. [HL4541]

The UK nuclear regulators are currently assessing two designs under the generic design assessment (GDA) process—EdF/Areva's UK-EPR and Westinghouse's AP 1000.

This process is being undertaken by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) and the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS)—both part of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)—and the Environment Agency.

GDA began in July 2007 on a contingent basis, pending the outcome of the Government's consultation on nuclear power in January 2008. Regulators completed their initial stage of the assessment in March 2008. The more detailed assessment stages of GDA commenced in June 2008.

Regulators currently aim to complete GDA by June 2011, with the NII producing interim reports in November 2009 and the Environment Agency undertaking a public consultation on their findings in spring 2010.

Regular updates on the progress of GDA, including quarterly reports, are published on the regulator's joint website at