Nuclear Options

With Hinkley Point C and nuclear new-build in the UK very much in the public eye, I have found the range of nuclear options being discussed rather confusing. This post provides an overview of the 6 main reactor designs that are vying for the global market today focussing on the large, >1 GW Generation III reactors. While the post focusses on the UK, the part on generic designs should be of interest to all readers. [image from the “The Heroes of Telemark” a British – Norwegian raid during WWII aimed to prevent the Nazis gaining heavy water reactor technology. Or was it? Keep reading to CANDU to learn more.]

UK Nuclear Regulation

Its not possible to simply show up in the UK and decide to build a nuclear reactor. The industry is tightly regulated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation that provides these comprehensive guidelines on the procedures that have to be followed. The process falls into two broad parts. First the reactor to be built needs to pass a Generic Design Assessment (GDA) to gain approval for construction. And second the site where the reactor is to be constructed needs to be licensed.

At present it is only the EDF Areva EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) that has passed the GDA and hence it has been the only fish in the pond for some time. But two other reactor designs are nearing completion of the GDA process (the Hitachi-Horizon ABWR and the Westinghouse AP 1000) the competition and activity is hotting up.

Gen III Reactors

Gen III reactors are evolutions of Gen II reactor designs. The main advances with Gen III are

  • More efficient conversion of U to electricity
  • Enhanced passive safety
  • 60 year design life (Gen II 40 years extendable to 80 years).
  • Reduced frequency of core damage events

The Areva EPR

The Areva EPR (European Pressurised Reactor) is the only European contender in the field.

  • Type: Pressurised Water Reactor
  • Thermal rating: 4500 MWt
  • Electrical rating: 1650 MWe
  • Efficiency: 36.7%
  • GDA: approved in the UK
  • Number in operation: 0
  • Number under construction: 2+2*

*  Olkiluoto in Finland since 2005 and Flamanville in France since 2007. Plus two variants under construction at Taishan in China since 2009.

The EPR is hailed as the most powerful and safest reactor on the market, designed to withstand a direct strike from an aircraft and to contain the core should a meltdown occur.

The EPR is the only Gen III reactor to currently have UK GDA approval offering it a significant advantage that has largely been frittered away through long delays to the investment decision being made at Hinkley Point.

The main and substantial weakness of the EPR is that none have ever been completed and there are none in operation. Build time and cost overruns at Olkiluoto and Flamanville have left Areva financially weakened. Taishan has also experienced project delays. Given the track record of other contenders leaves the question why anyone would chose to build an EPR. The Finns for example have gone with Rosatom for the second reactor they plan to build.

Hitachi – Horizon ABWR

Horizon is a new UK nuclear power company established as a joint venture between German utilities E.ON and RWE that intends to build and operate at least 4 new reactors at existing nuclear sites at Oldbury and Wylfa totalling 5400 MWe of power. Initially it considered the EPR and Westinghouse  1000 designs. But in 2012 the company was acquired by Hitachi that is the vendor of its own Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) design.

  • Type: Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR)
  • Thermal rating: 3926 MWt
  • Electrical rating: 1350 MWe
  • Efficiency: 34.4%
  • GDA: UK application began in 2013
  • Number in operation: 4
  • Number under construction: 3

On the list above Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6 become operational in 1996 and 7 in 1997. Hamaoka 5 came on line in 2005 and Shika 2 in 2006. The others are under construction. With 4 plants already operational and the UK GDA process nearing completion the ABWR seems clearly destined to be built on UK shores.

But there is a sting in the tail for Hitachi. The ABWR is an evolution of the BWR design deployed at Fukushima and regardless of the relevance of this to the ABWR that now incorporates design improvements to counter the failings at Fukushima, this association is bound to provide ammunition to the anti-nuclear lobby. And all bar one Japanese reactors remain shut despite the fact there are as yet no casualties from the radiation leak.

Horizon are clearly sensitive to this fact and have produced an immensely detailed presentation on the reactor design and safety features.

Let us remind ourselves what happened at Fukushima Daiichi. In March 2011 a gigantic magnitude 9 submarine earthquake struck the east coast of Japan creating a huge tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi power stations. The reactors withstood the earthquake and tsunami but cooling pumps that circulated water to spent fuel rod ponds were swamped. The ponds eventually boiled dry and the spent fuel caught fire creating hydrogen gas that exploded destroying the reactor buildings and damaging the reactors that eventually melted.

[According to commenters, this account of Fukushima is not entirely accurate. See comments for more details.]

The British public will need to be assured that this risk has been eliminated in the ABWR.

Westinghouse AP 1000

Westinghouse Electric Company LLC was hived out of the giant and now defunct Westinghouse Electric Corporation LLC in 1999. Westinghouse Electric Company LLC was acquired by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL) in 1999 who subsequently sold the business to Toshiba in 2005. Despite these changes in ownership, Westinghouse is American through and through and is based in Pennsylvania.

Westinghouse is a global giant in nuclear power whose technology and expertise underpins Japanese and Korean reactor programs. Their entrant to the Gen III program is the Westinghouse AP 1000.

Simplification was a major design objective of the AP1000 plant. Simplifications in overall safety systems, normal operating systems, the control room, construction techniques, and instrumentation and control systems provide a plant that is easier and less expensive to build, operate and maintain. Plant simplifications yield fewer components, cable and seismic building volume, all of which contribute to considerable savings in capital investment, and lower operation and maintenance costs. At the same time, the safety margins for the AP1000 plant have been increased dramatically over currently operating plants.

  • Type: Advanced Pressurised Water Reactor (APWR)
  • Thermal rating: 3415 MWt
  • Electrical rating: 1110 MWe
  • Efficiency: 32.5%
  • GDA: UK application is scheduled for completion in January 2017
  • Number in operation: 0
  • Number under construction: 8

The 8 units under construction are located in the USA and China. In the UK NuGeneration Limited has announced plans to build 3 AP 1000 plants at Moorside on the Cumbrian coast of NW England totalling 3330 MWe. NuGen is a joint venture between Toshiba and ENGIE that was formerly GDF Suez. And so to remind readers, Toshiba owns Westinghouse and ENGIE provides the UK based power generating utility dimension.

In the USA, 4 AP1000s are under construction, 2 at Vogtle in Georgia and 2 at VC Summer in S Carolina. Both projects are running about three years behind schedule with estimated build times now running at about 10 years. The cost of the two reactors at Vogtle is estimated to be $14 billion.


The Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is a dark horse offering the Advanced Power Reactor – APR1400. With one unit operational since 2016 with an 8 year build time and 7 more under construction they are a serious player in the international market but as yet there are no plans to build reactors of this type in the UK.

Table from Wikipedia.

  • Type: Advanced Pressurised Water Reactor (APWR)
  • Thermal rating: 3983 MWt
  • Electrical rating: 1455 MWe
  • Efficiency: 36.5%
  • GDA: not in the UK
  • Number in operation: 1
  • Number under construction: 7

The APR1400 came into the public eye when KEPCO was awarded a contract to build 4 units at Barakah in the UAE for a total consideration of $20 billion. The first concrete was poured for unit 1 in July 2012 and the project remains on schedule to produce first power in 2017 – a five year build time.

World nuclear news Feb 2016:

Construction of the first of four Korean-designed APR-1400 pressurized water reactors at Barakah, about 50 km from the town of Ruwais, began in 2012. Barakah 1 is now over 84% complete, with a start-up target date of 2017. Construction began on unit 2 in 2013, and is now 64% complete, while work began on units 3 and 4 in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Overall, construction of the four units at the site is over 58% complete, Enec said.

Rosatom AES 2006 (VVER 1200)

Russian State owned Rosatom boasts involvement at every level of the nuclear industry from uranium mining and enrichment to fabrication of nuclear weapons, nuclear power plant (NPP) and nuclear vessels. Not yet involved in the UK market, Rosatom is leader in the NPP export market and notably has just been awarded a contract in Finland to build an AES 2006 plant.  Finland has operated two Russian VVER 440 units for several decades and feels comfortable with the operational and safety records.

  • Type: Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR)
  • Thermal rating: 3200 MWt
  • Electrical rating: 1200 MWe
  • Efficiency: 37.5%
  • GDA: not in the UK
  • Number in operation: 0
  • Number under construction: 4
  • Operational life: 60 years

Table from Wikipedia.

The Hanhikivi 1 project in Finland is an interesting case study still at the planning and licensing stage construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 and to be completed by 2022 although commercial operation will not commence until 2024. A Rosatom subsidiary will own 34% of the plant. As for the price:

Fennovoima will build its nuclear power plant Hanhikivi 1 (FH1) to produce electricity for its owners at production cost price.

Which I presume means the plant will cost what it costs to build.

The Ruppur 1 and 2 VVER-1200 reactors in Bangladesh are reported to cost $12.65 billion combined and are financed 90% by a loan from the Russian government.

While no VVER-1200 plants are operational, the IAEA has this to say:

The design of AES-2006 of Generation 3+ with V-491 reactor plant is an evolutionary development of the designs with the VVER-1000 water cooled and water moderated reactor proved by a long-time operation.

The AES-2006 has been designed with the export market in mind and hence to meet OECD safety standards.

The ACR-1000

The last of the bunch of six Gen III reactors is the ACR-1000. ACR = Advanced CANDU Reactor. And CANDU = Canada-Deuterium-Uranium. I’m trying to complete this post late Thursday evening but I find myself confronted with a whole new ball game in reactor technology. Of the five preceding reactors described, 4 are variants of advanced pressurised water reactors and one is a boiling water reactor. But all use light water to moderate and cool the fission reaction. Light water is essentially purified tap water. CANDU uses heavy water to moderate the fission reaction with profound consequences for reactor operation, the main one being that CANDU reactors run on natural as opposed to enriched uranium removing the whole enrichment process from the fuel cycle.

[Note that original versions of the CANDU reactor used heavy water as the moderator and for cooling. The ACR-1000 still uses heavy water for moderation but light water for cooling. Therefore, the ACR-1000 requires low enriched uranium fuel.]

By way of brief explanation. Hydrogen is normally comprised of 1 proton + 1 electron. But occasionally it comprises 1 proton + 1 neutron + 1 electron and this isotope of hydrogen is called deuterium. Water (H2O) made from deuterium (D2O) is called heavy water and has very different properties to light water when moderating nuclear reactions.

Table from Wikipedia.

CANDU reactors have been sold to several countries around the world, but as far as I can tell the Gen III ACR-1000 has yet to get off the drawing board.

Concluding Comments

The Contenders

There are 5 serious + 1 contenders in the Gen III reactor market:

  1. Areva EPR
  2. Hitachi ABWR
  3. Westinghouse AP 1000
  4. KEPCO APR 1400
  5. Rosatom AES 2006
  6. CANDU ACR 1000

Areva and Westinghouse Gen III designs have already been beset by significant delays and cost overruns. The KEPCO APR 1400 appears to be the front runner with the first of type recently completed in S Korea and 7 more under construction in S Korea and UAE on time and on budget. The Hitachi ABWR has only ever been deployed in Japan where all existing units are currently closed. The Rosatom AES 2006 is also a front runner with a full order book, 4 units under construction and an important order from Finland.


Japan is in a state of nuclear schizophrenia. With nearly all its current reactor fleet idle post-Fukushima, it is building new reactors in Japan and dominates the international reactor market with Russia. Toshiba owned Westinghouse represents about one half of the global reactor presence. And the Hitachi ABWR is vying for first international sales in the UK.


China is currently building 2 Areva EPRs, 4 Westinghouse AP 1000s and 4 Rosatom VVER 1000 units (predecessor of the VVER 1200). Go Figure.

The UK

The UK will soon have three reactor designs approved:

  1. Areva EPR
  2. Hitachi ABWR
  3. Westinghouse AP 1000

Two of the three are already beset by construction delays and cost escalation else where. The plan as it stands:

  • 2* Areva EPRs at Hinkley point = 2*1650 MWe = 3300 MWe capacity
  • 4* Hitachi ABWRs at Wylfa and Oldburry = 4 * 1350 MWe = 5400 MWe capacity
  • 3* Westinghouse AP 1000s at Moorhouse = 3 * 1110 MWe – 3330 MWe

This totals 12,030 MW new nuclear capacity in the pipeline. About 20,000 MWe short of a sensible target. Theresa ought to get on the phone to Seoul to order 14 APR 1400s with the condition that the reactors are forged in Sheffield. Or alternatively get on the phone to Putin, which unfortunately seems unlikely in the current climate.


Rosatom, together with Westinghouse (US / Japan) dominates the global nuclear market. The balance of power may well change in the decades ahead.


It is notable in the UK that all three contenders in the new Gen III market – EDF Areva, Hitachi Horizon and NuGen are all exclusive or majority owners of the companies they are selling reactors to. It is no longer a case of electricity utilities deciding to purchase reactors from the most competitive vendor but the vendors becoming utilities themselves. There is an element of self belief in this process, that is an interesting and not necessarily bad development.


I normally rely upon a range of editorial backup on the posts I write all of which, for various reasons, are not available right now. So the post may contain a number of errors. Please bring any significant errors to my attention in comments and I will try to correct them.

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104 Responses to Nuclear Options

  1. Peter Lang says:


    The ponds eventually boiled dry and the spent fuel caught fire creating hydrogen gas that exploded destroying the reactor buildings and damaging the reactors that eventually melted.

    Is that statement correct?

    • Syndroma says:

      Second that.

      “cooling pumps that circulated water to spent fuel rod ponds were swamped.”

      Diesel generators were swamped and the site was left without power for days. Water level in the reactors dropped, fuel assemblies overheated, zirconium cladding reacted with the water producing hydrogen which escaped containment and exploded destroying reactor buildings.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Here is a truly excellent site, detailing the Fukushima event and subsequent effects by Leslie Corrice

      Lots of other good information on that site too

    • robertok06 says:

      I don’t think so. The reactors’ explosions where caused by the reactors’ fuel generating hydrogen. The spent fuel pool took several days to slowly evaporate the water up to the point when the upper part of them came out of the water level and started generating hydrogen… but the building was already without a full roof, I remember the scene of the fireman truck pumping water up to re-fill the pool.
      I may have a complete report somewhere where the storyline is precisely reconstructed… need to come back from the trip, though.

    • Leo Smith says:

      No, the explosions were due to core meltdowns in the SCRAMmed reactors after coolant circulation was lost. Hydrogen build up ruptured pipes, and the trapped hydrogen then blew the top off the building.

      The fuel ponds were a separate issue, as they were damaged and leaked radioactive contaminated water.

    • depriv says:

      That statement is NOT correct.

      The scenario of fuel ponds drying up and caughing fire (in short: creating a Chernobyl-type accident where the fuel is dispersed by fire) was invented and spreaded by some anti-nuclear propagandists. It never happened, and even the most densely stuffed spent fuel pool (in unit 4) was far from drying up.

      In most reactors the fuel has a special cladding containing zirconium. Unfortunately, zirconium at high temperatures (above 900C) reacts with water and releases hydrogen and heat. The temperature of the melting/breaking fuel pellets in the reactors were enough to start this reaction. The hydrogen escaped from the RPV and slowly filled up the building, then eventually exploded.

      To handle this threat in most reactors catalytic hydrogen recombinators are placed inside the building and inside the containment in large numbers. I don’t actually know why these were not available in Fukushima.
      I guess the reason was the same as for the diesels placed in low elevation and for the non-waterproof switch cabinets and the underestimated maximal tsunami height and so on.

    • Euan Mearns says:

      I wrote that from memory. And it may not be precisely correct. But at the time I wrote a number of posts on The Oil Drum. At the time of the earthquake 1 of 4 reactors was non-operational. At the time of the tsunami, the other 3 reactors had been successfully shut down.

      I don’t think it is contentious that the explosions were caused by hydrogen gas and it was these explosions that caused all the damage. At the time it was reported that the real concern was spent fuel ponds that were outside of primary containment and it was those that were the source of the hydrogen gas that exploded destroying the reactor buildings and damaging the primary containment around the reactor vessels.

      If someone has a reliable alternative version then I stand to be corrected.

      • Jose A. says:

        I don’t think it is contentious that the explosions were caused by hydrogen gas

        This is correct.

        and it was these explosions that caused all the damage.

        This depends on what damage you’re talking about. The damage in the buildings sure, it was the explosions but the damage in the cores were because of loss of cooling due to the station blackout situation (loss of all AC power). In fact the hydrogen formation was a consequence of the loss of coolant in the cores.

        it was those that were the source of the hydrogen gas that exploded destroying the reactor buildings and damaging the primary containment around the reactor vessels.

        This is totally incorrect. The spent fuel in all four pools was never exposed, this is a fact.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          OK Jose, I can accept that, I’ve no axe to grind, but that was the story at the time.

          How did the hydrogen escape the primary containment?

          • Jose A. says:

            Sorry but no Euan, that was not the story even at the time. The only explosion attributed to the spent fuel was the one that happened in unit 4; it has been latter shown that the origin of that explosion was hydrogen from unit 3 through a common ventilation system.

            As for how did the hydrogen escape the primary containment, this is from the 2012 report from Tepco:

            “It is unclear what path the leaking hydrogen took, but possibilities for the leak from the PCV includes seals on the head of the PCV, hatches used for equipment and people, and also electrical cable penetration. Silicone rubber is used for seals to prevent leaks,but it is possible that these seals were exposed to high temperatures and lost functionality.”

            What it’s is clear is that didn’t came from the spent fuel pools, it would have taken weeks for water in unit 1 to evaporate and expose the fuel rods, and after the explosion it was clearly seen that the spent fuel still had water. Pretty much the same in unit 3. As for unit 4, nuclide analysis of the pool water confirmed that there was no damage in the fuel back in the day, and so did the analysis of the fuel when it was removed from the pool in 2014.

          • Euan Mearns says:

            OK Jose, I have no axe to grind.

          • Syndroma says:

            Hydrogen either leaked from the containment or it was a backflow from the controlled vents.

  2. Leo Smith says:

    Pretty good introduction I think.

    Significant omissions – which you said you would omit – are the SMR programme that the UK is ostensibly supporting:

    “At the Spending Review and Autumn Statement 2015, Government announced that DECC will invest £250m in an ambitious nuclear research and development programme, enabling the UK to be a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies. This includes a competition to identify the best value SMR design for the UK.

    In March 2016, the Government launched the first phase of the competition. The objective of Phase One is to gauge market interest among technology developers, utilities, potential investors and funders in developing, commercialising and financing SMRs in the UK. The Government is keen to ensure that any subsequent stages of the competition are informed by participants’ views on how to secure commercial deployment of SMRs and on potential timeframes for deployment. This phase of the competition, which will be the first opportunity to engage in discussions with Government, will be a structured dialogue between Government and participants.”

    …and its foray into waste burning nukes, which CANDU may yet play a part in.

    “In 2011, informed by our strategic options work, the UK government proposed a preliminary policy view to pursue re-use of UK civil separated plutonium as Mixed Oxide fuel (MOX). This would see the vast majority of UK plutonium converted into fuel for use in civil nuclear reactors. Any remaining plutonium unsuitable for conversion into MOX would be immobilised and treated as waste for disposal.

    The NDA undertook further work between 2011 and 2013. This focused on continuing to examine reuse of plutonium as MOX and an assessment of alternative reuse proposals (in CANDU or PRISM reactors) offered by two other technology vendors. This work culminated in revised advice to DECC in June 2013 and publication of a position paper in January 2014.

    NDA has continued to work with government to develop reuse options along with immobilisation as an alternative approach. Further work is needed to establish conditions so that a decision to implement a preferred option can be confidently made at the right time.

    Only when government is confident that its preferred option could be implemented safely and securely, in way that is affordable, deliverable, and offers value for money, will it be in a position to proceed. ”

    • Davey says:

      I think omitting SMR reasonable as they have all way to go until a mature design can be submitted for GDA to the ONR

      This idea that we can just scrap Hinkley Point C and go for a Small Modular Reactor entirely false.

      The speed at which the nuclear industry means SMR wont be available for 5 or 10 years

      PRISM will have to be dealt with by Sellafield so don’t hold your breath

      Euan is entirely correct that there are 6 Gen 3 reactor designs available

  3. mark4asp says:

    I don’t trust the given figures for efficiency. They look more like wishes. The efficiency depends upon the maximum temperature. In practice, it works out at about 32% for PWR, and 30% for BWR.

  4. Leo Smith says:

    CANDU reactors run on natural as opposed to enriched uranium removing the whole enrichment process from the fuel cycle.

    No, they dont.. Not the ACR-1000 anyway. Its still enriched.

    The two big pluses of the CANDU are

    – its able to be refuelled in use. The fuel goes in one end and comes out the other effectively.
    – it can use all sorts of radioactive muck. Thorium and plutonium being of interest,. Its not quite a full breeder reactor but it breeds more than most reactors.

    here’s a nice puff piece on the type

    I have a feeling that with Brexit, the UK may well not be using European technology in the future.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      Yes, the original CANDUs used heavy water for both cooling and moderating so it could use unenriched uranium but had a slightly positive void coefficient as pointed out by robertok06.

      The ACR-1000 uses light water for cooling (heavy water still used as the moderator) so it is negative void coefficient but the price is the enriched uranium requirement and I’m not sure it retains the fuel flexibility of the original CANDU design.

  5. Syndroma says:

    “While no VVER-1200 plants are operational”

    The first VVER-1200 was connected to the grid this morning. 🙂

  6. Jose A. says:

    There’re at least 6 VVER-1200 under construction (with first concrete poured), not 4. two at Novovoronezh II and another two at Leningrad II in Russian, and another two in Belarus. There’s another one in Kaliningrad but it’s in some kind of stand-by.

  7. jacobress says:

    “despite the fact there are as yet no casualties from the radiation leak.” [in Fukushima, Japan]
    Not exact. The attempt to portray the accident as harmless is mendacious.

    No immediate casualties from radiation – true – and that may be thanks to the immediate evacuation of approx 100,000 people from their homes. The evacuation itself may have caused several dozen casualties in accidents and health related problems. The loss of tens of thousands of homes and the contamination of a big area, rendered uninhabitable – these are harmful enough.

    It is false to try to pretend that no harm was done.

    • Alex says:

      The level of evacuation – especially over the long term – has been extreme. So much that it has certainly caused more stress related deaths than radiation.

      Most of the area would be perfectly safe to return to once the iodine has decayed – after about 3-4 months.

      • jacobress says:

        First: even an evacuation of only 3-4 months of 100,000 people is stressful and harmful.
        Second: It is your opinion that the area would be safe after 3-4 months. Maybe. No one knows for sure. The official opinion is that the area will not be safe for decades. maybe it is wrong, but we just don’t know.

        • Greg Kaan says:

          Please have a look at this article and explore the site in general

          The scale of the evacuation was larger than was necessary and has lasted far, far too long

          • jacobress says:

            “The scale of the evacuation was larger than was necessary ”
            That is, maybe, something you can say after the fact. No one knew, (or could know) in real time, what the scale of the radioactive leak would be and where the fallout was heading.

            As to the 5 experts who opine that the Fukushima evacuation area can be safely re-populated – you can always find 5 others that will say the opposite. We just don’t know.

          • robertok06 says:


            “As to the 5 experts who opine that the Fukushima evacuation area can be safely re-populated – you can always find 5 others that will say the opposite. We just don’t know.”

            I know, so don’t use the “we”, as if it were a fact.

            Radiation is measured with incredible precision these day!… let’s not forget this.
            Modern instruments can detect the millibecquerel/m3 in air, or the few Bq/kg in meat/fish/vegetables.

            This means that the 5 experts who say that it can be re-populated will probably be radiation/nuclear experts who know what they are talking about, while the other 5 probably are “nuclear experts” from GreenPiss or similar anti-nuclear sect.
            That’s a huge difference, isn’t it?… I’m sure you’ll concur with me. 🙂

            One small exemple of “science vs fiction”:

            J Environ Radioact. 2016 Jul 8.
            “Assessment of residual doses to population after decontamination in Fukushima Prefecture.”

            Large quantities of radioactive materials were released into the environment as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident. Many inhabitants residing in the affected areas are now exposed to radiation in their daily lives. In an attempt to manage this radiation dose, an additional radiation dose of 1 mSv/y was adopted as a long-term dosimetric target. An activity level reading of 0.23 μSv/h was then determined as a guidance value to achieve the target by implementing decontamination measures. The objectives of this study are to assess the effects of decontamination based on this guidance value and to predict any possible future problems with the decontamination strategy. Using a probabilistic approach, we assessed the annual effective dose of indoor workers, outdoor workers, and pensioners in the Fukushima Prefecture. Our probabilistic model considers the variabilities in behavioral patterns and Cs-137 surface-activity levels. Five years after the initial contamination, the 95th percentiles of indoor workers and pensioners in 53 of the 59 municipalities were found to receive annual effective doses of below 1 mSv/y (0.026-0.73 mSv/y). However, for outdoor workers in 25 municipalities, the annual doses were over 1 mSv/y (1.0-35 mSv/y). Therefore, the guidance value is effective for indoor workers and pensioners; to determine whether additional countermeasures for outdoor workers should be implemented, a detailed assessment that uses more realistic assumptions is required.”


            Keep in mind, as I have written above in another post, that the average Swiss citizen gets more than 5 mSv/year, and the life-expectancy of Swiss people is as good as it gets.

            Watch out nuclear fobia.. it’s way more dangerous than radiation itself.


            Swiss data: (german and french, sorry)


            …see the first pdf, the 2015 report, page 34, fig.1… sum of all average doses… almost SEVEN mSv/year… I was wrong when I said 5.2, sorry.

        • gweberbv says:


          what is safe and what is not is a question of definition and of the model that is used to translate radiation exposure to health effects.

          • robertok06 says:


            Not even close to reality, guenter!

            What is safe is a question of DOSE (committed) received by the population exposed to it.
            It is a FACT that the japanese population in that area, of “high”contamination, receives mostly LESS than 1 additional mSv/year, with few above it… and this is a “safe” additional dose, meaning that there are no deterministic excess mortality/morbidity (like being exposed to 10 Sv… you die few hours/days later), and only stochastic effects are in play. These stochastic effects are resumed by the following SCIENTIFIC finding, i.e. that even applying the linear no-threshold model, which for low doses like these is not really applicable, there will be IN THE 70 YEARS FOLLOWING the exposure, a 5% increase for every additional Sv of dose… and at less than 1 mSv/year this would mean a small fraction of 1%… so small that it will be impossible to discern from normal mortality data… which, for Japan, means 30-35% (if I remember correctly) deaths cause by cancer for the overall population.

            That’s known science, baby! 🙂

        • robertok06 says:

          “First: even an evacuation of only 3-4 months of 100,000 people is stressful and harmful.”

          Yeah!… sure!… so what about the stress of being evicted FOREVER and EVER which the > 2 million chinese people endured when the “renewable” Three Gorges dam project was built?
          Nice try yours too. How about staying on target… and discussing about the casualties/illnesses caused BY RADIATION?… because this has been the mantra (one of the many) used by anti-nuclear factions against nuclear… and I see here that it has worked just fine.

    • The attempt to portray the accident as harmless is mendacious….It is false to try to pretend that no harm was done.

      Bit of a strawman argument. He said: ““…there are as yet no casualties from the radiation leak. And it wasn’t an accident. The reactors were, like the failed dam and gas storage depot, infrastructure damaged by what insurance companies used to call an act of God.

      The evacuation itself may have caused several dozen casualties in accidents and health related problems

      There is no doubt about that. The fear and anxiety component of those deaths can be blamed on antinuclear groups spreading misinformation for decades. Radiation concerns have been greatly exaggerated as a means of ending nuclear power. They didn’t anticipate (and probably would not care) that their exaggerations would eventually kill people.

      At those doses, it’s just another mild carcinogen like the hundreds of others already in the environment. The EPA lists over 400 of them. People could have lived in their homes while the area was being cleaned up, the workers who cleaned it up also won’t have higher cancer rates in old age. From the Japan Times:

      “We judged that no one should have been relocated in Fukushima, and it could be argued this was a knee-jerk reaction,” said Philip Thomas, a professor of risk management at Bristol University. “It did more harm than good. An awful lot of disruption has been caused However, this is with hindsight and we are not blaming the authorities.”

      • jacobress says:

        ““We judged that no one should have been relocated in Fukushima, and it could be argued this was a knee-jerk reaction,”
        This is total bull sh*t.
        No one knew, or could know, in real time, how much radioactive material will be spewed into the environment by the ongoing accident. So the emergency evacuation was necessary and it saved lives.
        You can debate how many people could have been allowed to return home, and when, after the radioactive discharge stopped.

    • robertok06 says:

      It is equally false to give responsibility to radiation of the death of elderly and disabled people that were forced to leave due to IRRATIONAL fear-mongering of radiation while they could have been left where they were, or moved with calm a few days later.
      The text you quote CLEARLY states “casualties from radiation leak”… and that is exactly true, and couldn’t be otherwise, since the amount of dose received by the population has been very low.
      There’s plenty, and I mean really plenty, of scientific literature on this, published since few months after the accident.
      The area rendered uninhabitable forever is really small, in fact a large part of the area originally off-limits is already back to being repopulated.
      Living in most of Fukushima prefecture’s area means receiving a SMALLER dose as compared to living in Switzerland in the Jura region, or in the italian-speaking Tessin/Ticino… due to natural radon… up to 5.2 mSv/year.
      If health of the population were really an issue, pregnant women from those areas of Switherland should be forced to move to Fukushima, “for the sake of the good health of their babies to be born”…

      Nice try though.

      • robertok06 says:

        Here above I was replying to jacobress’s

        “It is false to try to pretend that no harm was done.”

      • jacobress says:

        “due to IRRATIONAL fear-mongering of radiation”.

        The fact is that we do not know the extent of damage caused by LOW-dose radiation (there is no doubt about the dangers of HIGH doses). We do not know because no experiments were carried out on people – nor is it possible to do so. So, your belief that fear of radiation is IRRATIONAL is no more rational that the fear of others.
        It is a fact that the standards for acceptable doses of radiation are what they are (despite you opinion that they are irrational).
        There are two matters that cannot be disputed: 1. Radiation is dangerous (the debate is about doses). 2, Radiation stays dangerous for dozens or hundreds of years and we unable to clean up or neutralize it.

        • Leo Smith says:

          Wel it’s a good lie. But today we know a huge amount about chronic exposure to low levels of radiation.

          Basically under peak single doses of 100mSv in a short time, its harmless.

        • Greg Kaan says:

          we do not know the extent of damage caused by LOW-dose radiation

          You say you are not anti-nuclear and then you persist with rubbish like this. LNT can be PROVEN to be false by looking at the populations at Kerala, Ramsar, Yangjiang and Guarapari

        • robertok06 says:

          “The fact is that we do not know the extent of damage caused by LOW-dose radiation (there is no doubt about the dangers of HIGH doses). ”

          Again “we”!… stop using that!… speak for yourself… “YOU” don’t know, clearly because you refuse to get educated in this matters.

          First of all define “low” in “low dose radiation”. Most papers I’ve read, and I assure you that I read anything on this subject I can put my hands on, use “low” dose on lab animals, like mice and rats, in that case “low” is often msV/day, or even higher.

          One example:

          Six hundred female C57BL/6 mice, 1 month old, were exposed to chronic gamma irradiation at very low dose rates of 7 or 14 cGy/year. These doses are about 25 or 50 times higher than background, but much lower than the doses of about 1 cGy/day used in previous experiments. Three hundred mice living in the same room were used as controls.”

          25 to 50 times higher than background radiation? (which is of the order of 1-5 mSv/y, depending on place)…and the result is?

          The life span, after the beginning of the experiment, determined by the survival time of 50% of each population, is increased in irradiated mice: 549 days in controls, 673 days in both irradiated groups. The differences are significant between the control and the irradiation mice. Differences between mice irradiated with 7 or 14 cGy are not significant.
          These results confirm the possibility of a nonharmful effect (hormesis) of ionizing radiation. They demonstrate that the paradigm, which states that low-dose effects can be predicted high-dose effects, cannot be systematically applied in radiation biology in general and gerontology in particular.”

          In case of Fukushima nobody has ever, and now it is impossible that will ever be, subjected to doses exceeding few mSv/year… and in this case “low” is really low, like “since life exists on this planet”… if 1 additional mSv/y were dangerous in any way life would simply not exist. It is simple logic, but logic vs irrational fobias always loses.
          It’s your choice, either you believe to these guys…

          … i.e. the professional association of doctors and physicist working with radiation and radioactive sources.
          They say things like this one:

          “In accordance with current knowledge of radiation health risks, the Health Physics Society recommends against
          quantitative estimation of health risks below an individual dose1 of 50 millisievert (mSv) in one year or a lifetime dose of
          100 mSv above that received from natural sources.

          There is substantial and convincing scientific evidence for health risks following high-dose exposures. However, below 50–
          100 mSv (which includes occupational and environmental exposures), risks of health effects are either too small to be
          observed or are nonexistent.”

          … or else you believe the charlatans like Arnie Gundersen (the “nuclear expert” who claimed that the H2 explosions were in reality nuclear explosions/criticality events), or Chris Busby, or the anti-nuclear pasionaria Helen Caldicott… if you want to get really brainwashed by this bozos you can just look at this very (un)informative propagandist page:

          It’s up to you to choose: science or (bad taste) fiction based on irrational fobias?


          For a comparison of man and mice with respect to radiation exposure, see this:


          • Alex says:

            I don’t want to say too much on exposure levels, as it has nothing to do with Hinkley, but ……

            In Fuksuhima, it made sense to evacuate a lot of people early on, as no one knew how much radiation was going to be emitted.

            However, people should have been allowed to return much, much earlier. Once the iodine has decayed (90 days – less if they take iodine tablets), the radioactivity risk is minimal – if residents don’t drink local water of eat local produce, they can’t injest Caesium salts.

            As for radiation exposure – it’s like exposure to UV light. A small amount won’t hurt you, a large amount will. Below 50mS? Maybe, but we should see some more work on the body’s recovery (repair) rate. We know with UV radiation to the skin it’s a few days, depending on severity – and we can build up a model based on everyday experience. Can we do the same for other types of ionising radiation?

  8. jacobress says:

    Since so few of Gen III reactors were completed, and since the completed ones are running a very short time, it can be said that the experimental phase of these designs isn’t yet completed.

    What is remarkable is that most if not all orders were politically motivated. Japan builds Japanese reactors, Korea – Korean, East Europe – Russian, Britain (maybe) French, European. And then there is financing: by the Russian, French governments. (I don’t know about Korea).

    I have doubts about engineering projects motivated by political factors.

    And, another fact worth mentioning is that the most technologically advanced nations (US and Western Europe) aren’t rushing to build any new reactors.

    Other countries – like Iran or UAE – surely don’t build the reactors because they are starved for energy sources. They have also political motivation, unrelated to energy needs. Probably the same goes for India and China, though both are in need of new energy.

    • David McCrindle says:

      I think you are being a little unfair on Japan and Korea here. They started off by importing American designs (and in the case of Japan, even one of our Magnox designs). They both then developed these designs as their nuclear industry matured and both have had extensive R&D programmes. They have maintained their expertise. If we had done this then we would be building British Nuclear plants. That Korea is building Korean plants is only natural in these circumstances and is not just down to ‘political factors’.

      • jacobress says:

        It is natural, but you never know if they are building them because they are better or because they are Korean. (they might be both, but you don’t know yet).

        • David McCrindle says:

          Better than what?

          It is true that I don’t know how good Korean reactors are or how good their regulation system is. However I imagine that the questions the S Koreans are asking themselves are

          Are they reliable?
          Are they safe enough?
          Can we build and operate them economically?

          Given that they have past experience in building, commissioning and operating plants, that they have retained their expertise, and that their new designs are evolutionary are they better using these designs rather than building something from elsewhere that they don’t understand so well?

          In contrast what are we doing in the UK :-

          a) Spending years doing safety assessments (at vast expense) on designs which were specifically aimed to be safer than designs which are already being safely operated all over the world.

          b) then kicking it into the long grass.

          • mark4asp says:

            If we’d wanted ultra-safe designs we should’ve been researching molten salt reactors. There has been no fission reactor R&D in UK for decades; not since CEGB was abolished to privatise it.

            No doubt @jacobress has a different argument for why there should be no nuclear power R&D.

      • Thinkstoomuch says:

        Also National political factors keep stopping the building of rectors in the US. 8 alone in FL. Which the state approved several(maybe all I stopped looking as it is not good for my blood pressure). Stopped/slowed at the door of the man concerned about CO2.

        So instead we have more CCGT’s. Yep good for CO2 if that is your concern. Also good for use of limited FF resources. That was sarcasm. If it wasn’t obvious enough.

        Which I really find intensely annoying.


        • jacobress says:

          “limited FF resources”
          That is a declaration of faith. FF resources aren’t limited in time scale of decades.
          If CCGTs are cheaper (and they are, now) fine.

    • Greg Kaan says:

      I have doubts about engineering projects motivated by political factors.

      Perhaps you should comment on Die Energiewende, then

      And, another fact worth mentioning is that the most technologically advanced nations (US and Western Europe) aren’t rushing to build any new reactors.

      These economies are the ones that are largely stagnant due to the continuing fallout from the 2008 GFC. Additionally, they are the ones that have been sidetracked into pursuing renewable generation which only adds unreliable capacity so most existing generation has had to stay in place. Due to this electricity demand has not grown so the only current requirement is to replace obsolescent plants – as the reality of unreliable renewables is gradually acknowledged, new reactors will be required.

      Please be upfront about your anti-nuclear stance rather than just posting these undermining comments

      • jacobress says:

        “Perhaps you should comment on Die Energiewende”
        I did. The energiewende is sheer lunacy. Nuclear power at least delivers power, which is more than you can say about wind and sun.
        And I’m not anti-nuclear. I’m pointing out difficulties that nuclear enthusiasts tend to overlook.

    • robertok06 says:

      “Since so few of Gen III reactors were completed, and since the completed ones are running a very short time, it can be said that the experimental phase of these designs isn’t yet completed.”

      Don’t be silly, please!

  9. Alex says:

    Nice description. However, with a focus on the UK, what counts is what goes through accreditation (GDA).

    Rosatom has allegedly asked if it can put a design through accreditation, on the grounds that once it has UK accreditation, most countries will accept the design as safe. However, it was made clear that for a UK GDA, there must be an intent to build in the UK. That makes sense right now, as GDA is the big bottleneck in getting reactors built in the UK.

    In terms of GDA, the reactor order is:
    1. EPR: Accredited a few years back.
    2. Westinghouse AP1000: Currently expecting to be accreditedat end Q1 2017 (slight slippage from January).
    3. Hitachi ABWR – probably completing in Q1 2018.

    (Andy Dawson is on holiday, but did say some time ago that AP1000 and ABWR are even safer than the EPR. Which is a bit of a mute point as they’re all safe. A bit like saying is a Boeing 777 safer than an A380 for our trip to Singapore? Can’t decide, so lets drive to Singapore.)

    4. Hualong 1. This has been agreed as part of China’s backing for Hinkley, which makes it rather uncertain. However, they were meant to be starting the process this year, with intense work probably starting once the AP1000 exits.

    The Hualong 1 is a derivative of the CPR-1000
    It’s probably not as advanced as the first three, and expect a barrage of criticism about it’s safety and also the prospect of Chinese agents “turning it into a nuclear bomb”. Given the issues with the EPR and the Chinese security concern, this could be dropped.

    We then get into a lot of speculation. I know that the ONR would like the capability to accredit one design per year, compared to every 2.5 years at present. They might step up to one every 1.5 – 2 years soon.

    The winner of the SMR competition could get the next slot, when ready to enter, but there might be scope for one more PWR,first – especially if Hualong is dropped, so at a guess:

    5. Korea’s APR1400, starting GDA in 2018. Finish end 2021.

    6. The winner of the SMR competition phase 1 – which I’d guess would be the Westinghouse 225MW SMR ( NuScale may disagree. Starting in 2020. Finish end 2023.

    7. Another SMR competition entrant, the GE PRISM. This will be selected for GDA if it’s chosen as the UK’s plutonium disposal solution – as seems likely. Starting in 2021. Finish end 2024.

    8. Am SMR entrant from advanced designs, which I’d guess to be the Terrestrial Energy IMSR or, if they can get funding and scale, the Moltex Design. Starting in 2023. Finish end 2026.

    The idea behind the SMR competition is that the SMRs should be built in a UK factory, and then deployed in the UK or elsewhere.

  10. jacobress says:

    One thing seems clear to me at this point: if the government needs to guarantee a feed-in tariff of 0.92 per kwh (indexed) for 35 years to get a plant built – it makes no sense to build them now. Forget about it.
    From the survey above it seems that the other designs aren’t much cheaper.

    • jacobress says:

      Correction: 92 pounds per Mwh, 0.092 per Kwh.

    • A C Osborn says:

      The problem is nothing can compete in the currently distorted market where Wind & Solar get preferential treatment and it is not just the tarrifs, it is also first call.
      So any kind of new build Generator will need tarrifs to make it worthwhile building them.
      Utter madness.

    • Leo Smith says:

      a committed government that took a chainsaw to the overburden of pointless regulations could halve that cost or more.

    • mark4asp says:

      Part of the solution must be to do away with FiTs, CfD, priority grid access. Use a fee and dividend system as outlined before. Then let the market decide. Fee and dividend could just be applied to the electricity sector where it would be a piece of cake to deliver as everything is metered.

      £0.0925 / unit is cheap compared to off-shore wind’s £0.152 / unit.

      • jacobress says:

        “£0.0925 / unit is cheap compared to off-shore wind’s £0.152 / unit.”

        I would put it this way: 0.152 for wind is even crazier than 0.092 for nuclear.

    • mark4asp says:

      Your argument, sort of, makes sense except:
      * we are building offshore wind with CfD up to 64% higher, at £152/MWh
      * a ridiculous price to pay for unreliable electricity which destabilizes our grid and drives up prices.
      * no one will build new gas-fired plant without big subsidies because they can be run only intermittently, so make profit only part of the time, because intermittent RE has grid priority.

      What do you want us to do: reopen closed coal-fired power stations, can we even do that? Just direct me to your blog, where you outline your alternative. As I read you – you’re basically arguing for anarchy at the moment.

      • A C Osborn says:

        Only if “Anarchy” = Common Sense.
        The whole premise for Renewables, ie World CO2 reduction is wrong and the UK’s contribution so small anyway that Billions are being wasted to avert a non problem.
        Not just opening closed Coal Fired Power Stations, but Coal Mines as well, also Fracking of Gas, Energy Security starts at home.

        Ditch the subsidies and preferences for RE, let them stand on their own.

    • Leo Smith says:

      Well the problem is that coal has been rendered uneconomic by legislation, and renewables cost even more.

      Short of fracked gas that leaves no other alternatives.

      It’s all very well to say ‘the market price of electricity is X and no technology that can’t meet that should exist’ But there are no technologies that can meet that.

      The Guv Mint recognises that to get into nukes, will; cost a bit more to start with.

  11. ristvan says:

    Useful review of what is out there. Nuclear may well be in the UK’s future energy mix.
    But it doesn’t solve pressing current baseload capacity issues. In the US, the average age at retirement of coal stations is 48 years. Longannett was shut at 46, so no reason to think the UK has different effective plant life. Even ignoring emissions issues, a substantial part of UK capacity is reaching economic retirement age. The fastest replacement is CCGT, and newer units can even run 40% capacity while still 58% efficient. They can be brought on in 2-2.5 years at existing sites with transmission in place. Longannett, for example, could easily be supplied by US LNG tankers if necessary. What has to be solved is the economics. Just as with Germany’s Energiewende (Irsching for example is newish CCGT that is shutting because they were denied standby subsidies), they aren’t viable without large subsidies when intermittent renewables are given feed in preference, forcing CCGT to run far below capacity.

    • Leo Smith says:

      Absolutely. CCGT and fracked gas buts time to get nukes installed. But as we found out with NS gas, no oilfield lasts forever.

    • Rob says:

      ristvan if CCGT can operate at 40% capacity why cannot Carlton power at Trafford find investment at £72 per MWh

      CCGT not economic when backing up wind power

      Also why become dependant on foreign gas prices wont stay low forever

  12. heavyweather says:

    If you still believe that nuclear is even an option today, you haven’t payed much attention to Massimo…

  13. Ben Jamin' says:

    It’s not the reactor that is the main problem. It’s the fact we are having four different designs, all privately financed by companies that know they have the UK by the short and curlies.

    • Alex says:

      No, it’s the fact that have one reactor design at the moment, and EDF thought they had the UK by the short and curlies. It also happens to be the worst design.

      Once the next two designs are approved, there should be some more “buyer choice” in the market.

  14. Pingback: The Age and Future Size of the Global Nuclear Fleet | Energy Matters

  15. A piece just published today by Robert Hunziker who has followed the Fukushima story for years.

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