What is it?

Civil engineering is a wide ranging engineering discipline that covers the design, construction, and maintenance of much of the built environment that surrounds us, and which is taken for granted every day. This includes buildings, power plants, roads, bridges, harbours, drainage systems, dams, railways, along with many other essential infrastructure systems.


CRAs Civil Engineering team specialise in structural and earthquake engineering, with a particular focus on the Nuclear Industry. However, we have considerable experience in many other areas, such as Geotechnical, Infrastructure, Environment and Materials.


Some of the main engineering sub-disciplines within civil engineering include:

Structural Engineering

Earthquake Engineering

Geotechnical Engineering

Coastal Engineering


Environment and Infrastructure

Materials Science

Why is it important?

On a nuclear power plant, the main civil engineering tasks include the analysis and design of the buildings and supporting infrastructure. These structures play a vital role in providing protection, weatherproofing, support and shielding to the main plant items, allowing them to function as intended.


Civil Engineering also includes the overall seismic analysis of the structures on the site, which is used to generate all the secondary response spectra. Understanding how the soil and structures behave in a seismic event is key to determining the resulting design loading inputs for the seismically qualified plant and equipment.


Therefore, civil engineering is a crucial part of any nuclear plant, or indeed any of the industries noted, as it provides the support and protection required by all the other structures, systems and components, ensuring continued functional requirements.

What do we do?

In CRA we have a small team of civil engineering experts with extensive experience in supporting the Nuclear Industry, both in the UK and internationally. Given our size, we seek to add our expertise to enhance our clients existing capability rather than seeking to take on large packages of detailed design work ourselves.

In particular, the CRA Civil Engineering team aims to provide our Clients with the following:

Our ability to advise on the best approach to delivering nuclear civil engineering designs that will meet ONR expectations without unnecessary delay.

Our ability to write nuclear safety case documentation e.g. PCSRs, Basis of Designs, Structural Design Method Statements, Design Substantiation Reports.

Our experience in implementing and modifying US codes for deployment in the UK.

The latest information on the development of US codes and standards from our membership of US/French code drafting committees.

Our ability to advise on the most appropriate methods for the seismic analysis and design of nuclear safety related structures, systems and components.

Our Civil Engineering expertise covers the following areas:

Seismic Ground Motion

Seismic Site Response

Soil Structure Interaction Analysis

Structural Analysis, Design and Detailing of Nuclear Structures

Codes and Standards

Thermal Analysis

Concrete Cracking Analysis

Site Inspections and Assessments

SC Modular Design, Fabrication, Assembly, and Construction

Our Work

Our civil engineering staff have worked for all the main nuclear new build vendors (e.g. Hitachi, EDF and Westinghouse) either during GDA or the site-specific design phase. This has included the production of our own documentation as well as the review of documentation by others. Additionally, we have presented to, and held extensive discussion with, the regulator to explain methodologies or address comments.


Our staff have a long history of supporting EDF with their existing fleet, both in assessment of existing structures and in the analysis, design and review of modifications or new structures, including the increasing demand for support in decommissioning.


In addition, we have worked on various non-reactor nuclear projects at Dounraey, AWE and Devonport.

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