Validation is one of the keys to safety at Hinkley Point C

Wood is playing a key role at Hinkley Point C, the first nuclear power station to be built in the UK for more than 20 years.  Wood’s Inspection Validation Centre (IVC) is qualifying ultrasonic inspections on high integrity welds in primary circuit components for the two 1.6-gigawatt reactors.

Greg Willetts, vice president for consultancy and defence (nuclear), said: “Organisations must ensure the competence of non-destructive testing (NDT) staff who carry out inspections of nuclear critical components that are required to be defect-free for safe operation of plant.

“This starts at the manufacturing stage and continues through to in-service inspection of components.

“Our role is to independently check the inspection methods – and assess and qualify the inspectors who will apply them – to ensure that they can detect any defects that could compromise the structural integrity of critical reactor components during the plant’s lifetime.

“Our certificated, independent accredited service forms part of the safety case for Hinkley Point C and allows the UK nuclear regulator’s requirements on inspection qualification to be met.”

In the UK, the regulator requires that any activities related to nuclear safety is carried out by Suitably Qualified and Experienced Personnel (SQEP) and similar requirements are laid out in Article 7 of the recently published EU Directive on Nuclear Safety.

The project involves Wood’s teams managing the production of representative test pieces with in-built defects. Our teams visit factories in the UK, USA and France to ensure that these difficult-to-replicate samples have been manufactured correctly using flaw implantation techniques.

Wood will also assess the inspection procedures and their supporting technical justifications and will carry out practical trials to ensure that inspectors can identify the defects in the test pieces.

The IVC has 40 years’ experience of providing independent assessment and assurance for all aspects of NDT inspection qualification on very high integrity nuclear components, from end of manufacture and pre-service through to periodic in-service inspection.

This is the first major inspection qualification programme in the UK civil nuclear sector since the building of Sizewell B in the 1990s, when Wood provided a similar service. One of the IVC’s jobs is to look after a collection of test pieces, including huge reactor pressure vessel components, which are then used throughout the lifetime of the reactor operation.


Chris Curtis, Wood