HC Deb 10 June 1974 vol 874 cc403-4W
Mr. Leadbitter

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what practical experience his Department has of light water reactors; and, in particular, what new technological information he has received, as well as safety information, for the purposes of making a decision on future nuclear policy;

(2) what scientific assessment has been made by his Department together with the Central Electricity Generating Board of the light water reactor; and what scientific comparisons have been made between different nuclear systems;

(3) what steps he has taken to ensure that all the technical information in respect of light water reactors is made available to the Central Electricity Generating Board and his Department; and, in particular, if he is satisfied that all the information in respect of safety and operating experience is available to him;

(4) what operating and safety experience is known to him, or exists, of light water reactors of the size recommended by the Central Electricity Generating Board.

Mr. Varley

There is a substantial amount of relevant information freely available on all aspects of light water reactor technology which includes operation, design and construction aspects for plant having capacities up to that proposed by the Central Electricity Generating Board. These sources of information, of which I have availed myself, are supplemented by liaison in the field of safety between the Nuclear Inspectorate and corresponding organisations overseas, especially the United States Atomic Energy Commission's Division of Regulation. The Central Electricity Generating Board continues to ensure that they have all the information they need. In addition the Central Electricity Generating Board has been in close contact with the design groups in the United States and, as a result, additional information has been acquired; this has included material relevant to safety which is now in the hands of the Nuclear Inspectorate.

Relevant practical experience of water reactor technology in the United Kingdom includes the design, construction and operation of naval reactors and the provision of services by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority to overseas users of light water reactors. In addition certain sections of British industry are suppliers of components for this class of reactors. All water reactors have a great deal in common and our steam generating heavy water reactor experience is also directly relevant.

Technological and economic assessments of reactors of both the gas-cooled and water-cooled types have been made as an essential part of the work leading to the Government's choice of reactor system to be installed in the United Kingdom.

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