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Public dialogue on new nuclear power station design informs the National Nuclear Laboratory understanding of public perceptions of the nuclear industry

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The National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) participated in the Independent Oversight Group for the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) dialogue in 2014-15, and the impacts of that experience on the NNL were published on the NNL website on 1 October 2015.

The GDA dialogue project was developed to review and improve public involvement in design assessment of nuclear reactors for potential new nuclear power stations. It was led by the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Office for Nuclear Regulation and supported by Sciencewise.

The article on the NNL website points out that the context for that dialogue was that the Government had identified a number of facilitative actions that should be undertaken for the development of nuclear power including that the nuclear regulators should develop a pre-licensing process for assessing the designs of new nuclear reactors: Generic Design Assessment (GDA).  The article identifies that "An important objective [in the GDA process] is openness and transparency".

The article goes on to describe the aims of the dialogue as being that "regulators are keen to build public confidence and public engagement is a key part of the GDA process, for example the regulators’ consultation on their preliminary findings. The dialogue project for the GDA of the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor – (ABWR) was to allow the regulators to gain new perspectives and insights from members of the public and with the aim to further build public trust in the regulators and their decisions, as part of the dialogue process."

NNL’s Dr Colette Grundy, an NNL Laboratory Fellow in Nuclear Regulation was involved in the public dialogue project as a member of the Independent Oversight Group. Colette was a regulator on nuclear new build in GDA from 2007 until late 2011 when she joined NNL. She is quoted in the NNL website article as saying:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to draw on my past experience as a regulator in GDA in attending the dialogue workshop for the ABWR reactor. It was great to work with the members of the Independent Oversight Group to ask questions and challenge the design of the dialogue process. I had the opportunity to understand public perceptions of the nuclear industry and the regulatory process through attending a dialogue workshop and reviewing findings. I found this extremely interesting and it provided valuable insight.”

www.nnl.co.uk/news-media-centre/latest-news/nnl-supports-new-reactor-dialogue-study/

The report of the dialogue has been published and is available at www.sciencewise-erc.org.uk/cms/assets/Uploads/GDA-dialogue-report-August-2015-FINAL.pdf. The report of the evaluation is expected to be published soon.

See related project page: New nuclear power stations