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60 seconds with...Andrew Steer, Moltex

Institution News Team

A yellow triangle sign with radiation warning
A yellow triangle sign with radiation warning

Moltex's head of safety provides some advice to safety professionals on developing a good safety case ahead of his presentation at the IMechE's Nuclear Safety Case seminar.

For further details about the seminar and to book your place, please visit the event website.

Please briefly explain your role, involvement, and experience with regards to Safety Cases in the Nuclear Industry

Andrew Steer (AS): As Head of Safety Case for MoltexFLEX, my role is to help ensure that the FLEX reactor can be deployed globally. This starts with ensuring the safety justification of the FLEX reactor enables successful completion of regulatory licensing processes. In the near-term, this means implementing a safety case strategy to support the design development of the FLEX reactor. The strategy will ensure the demonstration, organisation, and processes for the safety case are ready for generic assessment and future licensing and permitting phases.

I have been a safety case professional for the past 16 years, first as a consultant supporting a range of clients in hazards analysis and deterministic safety. In 2018 I became a safety case lead for the UK HPR1000 generic design assessment (GDA), which successfully completed in 2022. Since 2022 I have been the Head of Safety Case for MoltexFLEX.

What is the number one challenge for those designing and carrying out safety cases, in your opinion?

AS: The number one challenge for us is deploying quickly enough to have the maximum impact in mitigating global climate change.

To enable rapid development and global deployment, it’s vital that regulatory requirements are consistent and aligned. This includes constructive early engagement with regulators to familiarise them with the proposed technology and ensure our strategy is on the right path for meaningful and efficient assessment.

What is the most important development in this field at the moment, either within your organisation or in the industry in general?

AS: Within our organisation (and I think the wider industry), the integration of design and safety from first concept. Also, adopting a systems engineering approach to ensure complete requirements capture and management is really important.

The aim is to make it simple, traceable and reliable to demonstrate requirements, through analysis and assessment to substantiated safety feature. I feel this is the route to efficient and effective safety cases.

What will you be presenting at the Fit For Purpose Safety Cases in the Nuclear Industry 2023 seminar and how will this benefit participants?

AS: I’ll be presenting an overview of the FLEX reactor concept, describing how adopting an inherent and passive safety approach informs our development of the safety case. This leads on to the benefit of eliminating hazards via design and integrating safety from first concept, with requirements identification and management via claims development.

I will then briefly describe the MoltexFLEX safety, environment and security strategy, and take a forward look at implementation.

My intention is that participants will gain an insight into the unique opportunities and challenges in developing safety cases for advanced nuclear reactors. These reactors have hugely significant inherent safety benefits; so the balance of the safety case demonstration is key.

What is your advice to those establishing or evaluating a safety case for the first time?

AS: I think it’s vital to have a really clear understanding of the purposes and requirements the safety case is intended to demonstrate, and how they are being met. It’s important to differentiate between necessary elements and ones that are ‘nice to have’ to deliver a safety case that delivers real value to intended users and stakeholders. Presenting the important and relevant information clearly and concisely is also crucial.

What other topics are you looking forward to hearing about and discussing at the upcoming seminar?

AS: I’m looking forward to meeting colleagues in person again, discussing how safety case practices are developing - particularly in managing requirements, and how efficient and meaningful safety cases are being produced. I’m interested in learning how the assessment of small modular reactors is progressing and the lessons that we can learn to improve our strategy.

Why is it important for engineers and safety practitioners to come together and share best practice?

AS: We have the opportunity to learn from successes and challenges and also to help each other present our safety justifications in the most valuable way. We have to do our part in helping to deliver projects that can have real-world benefits for our future.

Fit For Purpose Safety Cases in the Nuclear Industry will take place on 23 May 2023 in Manchester

The only event of its kind, this popular event brings together experts from various fields, including nuclear safety, engineering, and regulatory affairs, to share their insights and experiences. It provides a unique and essential opportunity for nuclear safety professionals to address and overcome the key challenges for safety case design and implementation.

For further details about the seminar and to book your place, please visit the event website.


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