Milestone passed offers hope for Fylde nuclear workers

A turbulent week for a nuclear company has ended on a positive note after its design for a new power plant passed review by regulators.

Friday, 31st March 2017, 4:39 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:26 pm
From left to right in DAC1 its Stephen Hardy (Nuclear Regulation Group Manager at Environment Agency), Richard Savage (Chief Nuclear Inspector at ONR), Ash Townes (Moorside project director at Westinghouse).

Westinghouse, which has the fuel factory at Springfields at Salwick, won approval for its new AP1000 reactor design which is earmarked for the Moorside scheme near Sellafield.

The Moorside scheme has been under a cloud since Toshiba one of the firms in the consortium behind it put its US Westinghouse subsidiary into bankruptcy protection following financial troubles caused by two AP1000 nuclear projects in the USA over-running.

But now inspectors from the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation have announced that Westinghouse’s AP1000 design has passed the major milestone of Generic Design Assessment plus two other vital reviews before the scheme can go ahead.

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Chief executive officer José Emeterio Gutiérrez said: “The successful completion of this rigorous review by the ONR and the EA has been many years in the making, and it represents a major milestone toward bringing a new generation of safe, clean energy to the United Kingdom through the Moorside Project.”

The Moorside Project, developed by the NuGen consortium is planned to consist of three AP1000 units at West Cumbria. It aims to help secure the UK’s future energy supply by delivering affordable, low-carbon electricity as part of a balanced energy mix. Fuel would be supplied by Springfields at Salwick safeguarding Fylde jobs for years to come.

Following the bankruptcy move, the GMB Union called on the Government to give assurances about Moorside.

It says thousands of jobs would be affected if the project was set back, but it has given a guarded welcome to Toshiba saying it would sell its share in the project to another group to keep it going.

Chris Jukes, GMB senior organiser, said: “Anything that safeguards jobs in West Cumbria and gives maximum opportunities for workers has to be a better option than the whole project going down the pan. We’re talking 10,000 jobs at risk here, plus seven per cent of the UK’s future energy supply.”