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UK and French bilateral yields strengthening of international relationships

UK and French nuclear regulators have agreed to extend a mutually beneficial cooperation agreement during a successful bilateral meeting between the two countries.

Representatives from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) welcomed their counterparts from Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), the French regulator, to London for a three-day engagement event.

Chaired by Donald Urquhart, ONR's Executive Director of Regulation (EDR), the ASN delegation was led by Commissioner Sylvie Cadet-Mercier.

Discussions included expertise shared about Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs), Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs) and the effect of climate change on nuclear facilities.

The current ASN-ONR arrangement for co-operation and exchange of information expires in June 2023 and it has now been agreed for this to be extended for another five years.

Work will now start to sign off this renewed agreement later this year.

Topics that will form part of this sharing of cross-Channel expertise include fleet operating experience, fuel and core considerations for European Pressurised Reactors and Pressurised Water Reactors, Periodic Safety Reviews, Generic Design Assessments and site decommissioning challenges.

During the three-day visit, the delegation also went to nuclear construction site Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset where the group conducted a walkdown on Unit 1, looking at the nuclear island and fabrications within the manufacturing bunkers.

Mr Urquhart said: "This bilateral event was an extremely positive engagement and a great chance for both national nuclear regulators to hear about and explain their potential challenges and opportunities both now and in the years ahead.

“We have many areas of common interest and I noted a substantial appetite from both parties to engage and share information on these.

“Both ONR and ASN made excellent and insightful presentations on key topical areas, and the camaraderie and goodwill between us was evident throughout. I am grateful to the group of ONR and ASN inspectors who made the event such a success.

“Growing and strengthening our international working relationships with like-minded regulators helps us to work efficiently and in harmony as we strive, continually, to enhance safety and security across the global nuclear industry."