Structure of the UK nuclear industry

Prior to the break-up and privatisation of the electricity generation industry in the 1980s and 1990s, the operators of nuclear installations were primarily government-owned organisations. More recently, the UK government has given the go-ahead for a new generation of nuclear power stations to be built. Potential sites have been identified across England and Wales. However, the devolved Scottish government has no current plans for new nuclear power stations. A divergence in approaches to waste management between Scotland and the remainder of the UK has also been confirmed (Defra et al, 2008; Scottish Government, 2011). Northern Ireland currently has no nuclear power stations and no identified sites for potential new build, although there is no policy restricting the development of nuclear power in Northern Ireland.

Table 16.1 Current and projected radioactive waste in England and Wales

Waste

type

Volume (cubic metres)

Stocks at 1 April 2010

Estimated future arisings

Lifetime total once all wastes are packaged

England

HLW

1,620

-601a

1,330

ILW

83,200

164,000

424,000

LLW

35,000

4,010,000

4,040,000

Wales

HLW

0

0

0

ILW

3,070

10,800

22,300

LLW

539

106,000

132,000

a Future arisings of HLW in England have a negative volume. This is because Sellafield has reported future arisings of HLW to show that the volume of accu­mulated waste (liquid plus vitrified product) will fall as liquid waste existing at 1 April 2010 and forecast in the future is conditioned to a vitrified product. No HLW is managed in Wales.

Table 16.2 Status of reactors in England and Wales, October 2011

Power station

Type

Net MWe

Construction

started

Connected to grida

Status

Oldbury

Magnox

434

1962

1967

Closed 2012

Wylfa

Magnox

980

1963

1971

Operational

Dungeness B

AGR

1,110

1965

1983

Operational

Hinkley Point B

AGR

1,220

1967

1976

Operational

Hartlepool

AGR

1,210

1968

1983

Operational

Heysham 1

AGR

1,150

1970

1983

Operational

Heysham 2

AGR

1,250

1980

1988

Operational

Sizewell B

PWR

1,188

1988

1995

Operational

Calder Hall

Magnox

200

1953

1956

Closed 2003

Berkeley

Magnox

276

1957

1962

Closed 1989

Bradwell

Magnox

246

1957

1962

Closed 2002

Hinkley Point A

Magnox

470

1957

1965

Closed 2000

Trawsfynydd

Magnox

390

1959

1965

Closed 1991

Dungeness A

Magnox

450

1960

1965

Closed 2006

Sizewell A

Magnox

420

1961

1966

Closed 2006

a For sites with multiple reactors, the date of connection to the grid represents connection of the first reactor unit (e. g., Calder Hall had a four reactor design. Reactor 1 was connected in 1956; reactor 4 was connected in 1959).

RAW management in Scotland is considered in Chapter 17, but there is considerable overlap with England and Wales, and for much of the earlier history of nuclear developments, a UK-wide policy was applied.

As the older stations and other facilities have closed, a significant liability has accumulated, much of which has been retained in the public sector as privatisation of facilities reaching the end of their working lives was not practicable. The current status of reactors in England and Wales is sum­marised in Table 16.2.

A number of research and development reactors also produced some power for the grid, including two Winfrith reactors, two Dounreay fast reac­tors, and the prototype Windscale advanced gas-cooled reactor.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) was established in 2005 to take on the role of addressing the nuclear legacy from these older sites in a planned and focused manner. The NDA is responsible for the largest current decommissioning and waste management liabilities in the UK, overseeing the continued operation, decommissioning and site clean­up at 19 sites across the UK. Following further restructuring of the UK civil nuclear industry in 2007, seven site licence companies (owned by sepa­rate parent body organisations) were established to work in partnership with the NDA to carry out decommissioning and commercial operations (Fig. 16.2 ).

image193

16.2 Stewardship of NDA sites.

Other significant producers of radioactive waste in the UK, as owner operators of nuclear licensed facilities, are currently EDF Energy, the Min­istry of Defence, GE Healthcare Ltd and Urenco UK Ltd. EDF Energy currently operates advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) power stations at seven sites across the UK in addition to one pressurised water reactor (PWR) at Sizewell B. The NDA has an additional responsibility to scrutinise EDF Energy’s site decommissioning plans (NDA, 2011).

The UK strategy has been developed to present an integrated approach to the management of RAW and the decommissioning process. All nuclear installations in the UK have been regulated through the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Nuclear Installations Inspectorate using a site licensing system that applies conditions to operations carried out at the site. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is the new regulator for the civil nuclear industry in the United Kingdom. Created on 1 April 2011, the ONR was formed from the merger of the Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate (the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, Office for Civil Nuclear Security, and the UK Safeguards Office) and the Department for Trans­port’s Radioactive Materials Transport Team. The change follows the rec­ommendations of a review conducted on behalf of the Government in 2008 (Nuclear Regulatory Review, 2008; HSE and ONR, 2011). The ONR was initially created as a non-statutory body and an agency of the HSE; however, the government has announced its intention to put the ONR on a statutory basis once the appropriate legislation has been passed. When fully opera­tional as a statutory corporation, ONR will be an autonomous organisation, legally separated from, but still supported by, the HSE.

The disposal of RAW has been legislated under the Radioactive Sub­stances Act 1960 (RSA60) and subsequently the Radioactive Substances Act 1993 (RSA93) before being incorporated into Schedule 23 of the Envi­ronmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (EPR10) within England and Wales (RSA93 was retained in Scotland and Northern Ireland). EPR10 was amended in 2011 by the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations (2011) to include revised exemption provisions and corresponding amendments were made to RSA93 in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Environment Agency is the regula­tor with the responsibility for regulating the disposal of RAW in England and Wales. Responsibility for regulating RAW disposal in Scotland lies with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

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