ALL OUTSTANDING safety issues involving the design of the reactors planned for the Sizewell C nuclear power station could be resolved by the end of this year, according to the latest report by inspectors.

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Earlier this year a total of 31 outstanding concerns with the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) were identified by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency.

Previously slow progress in resolving what are known as generic design assessment (GDA) issues prompted critics to claim the agencies’ target of resolving them by the end of the year would not be met. However, according to the latest bulletin from the ONR and Environment Agency, 18 issues have now been resolved and inspectors believe the remaining 13 can soon be dealt with.

“Going forward, if the information provided by the requesting parties is right first time, the regulators might be able to close all of the remaining GDA issues before the end of the year,” the bulletin says.

But the agencies say they will not be issuing formal acceptance documents until all 31 issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of inspectors.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said he had “considerable doubts” over whether the agencies had the resources to carry out the remaining work by the end of the year.

“If they go ahead with construction before all the issues are resolved it would be a recipe for disaster because the design of one part of the plant must have an effect on other parts,” he added.

EDF Energy, the company planning to build two EPRs to form Sizewell C, welcomed the statement from the ONR and the Environment Agency, describing it as a “step forward”.

“The update from regulators means that the UK EPR remains on schedule to be approved by the end of this year – in time for a decision from EDF Energy on whether to proceed with the project,” the spokesman added.

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