Bath Chronicle

Con­cerns at re­ac­tor restart bid

- Olivia Scull Re­porter olivi­aalexan­dra.scull@reach­plc.com Nuclear Power · Energy · Industries · Somerset · Midlands · England · United Kingdom · Government of the United Kingdom · Paris · France · London Electric

A cam­paign group is con­cerned for the safety of Som­er­set af­ter Hink­ley Point an­nounced plans to bring back old re­ac­tors.

EDF En­ergy has said it in­tends to sub­mit new safety cases to the Of­fice for Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tion (ONR) to re-open re­ac­tors 3 and 4 at Hink­ley Point B. It cur­rently ex­pects re­ac­tor 4 to re­turn to ser­vice on Fe­bru­ary 26, 2021, and re­ac­tor 3 on March 12, 2021. The Stop Hink­ley Cam­paign is call­ing for both re­ac­tors to re­main closed.

Very re­cently, ONR gave per­mis­sions to EDF to re-start for six months two old re­ac­tors at the Hun­ter­ston B nu­clear power sta­tion – Hink­ley Point B’s sis­ter sta­tion - on the Clyde coast. Re­ac­tor 3 at Hun­ter­ston came back on­line at the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber and re­ac­tor 4 was due to start up at the end of last month.

The Stop Hink­ley Cam­paign say that th­ese re­ac­tors are sim­i­lar to the Hink­ley re­ac­tors and are among the old­est in the world. One of the re­ac­tors has been shut for over two years and the other shut for a year and a half. They were orig­i­nally shut be­cause of cracks and the loss of graphite in their cores.

The ONR claims that EDF has done com­puter mod­el­ling and made pre­dic­tions that the re­ac­tors are likely to be safe for an­other six months.

The cam­paign group said: “The re­al­ity is that no one can pre­dict with cer­tainty how graphite cores will re­act more than a decade past their of­fi­cial clos­ing dates. Even worse, the ONR has in­di­cated they may even give longer per­mis­sions for up to a year.

“ONR’S sur­pris­ing de­ci­sions are an af­front to any con­cept of the Pre­cau­tion­ary Prin­ci­ple which says we should err on the side of safety. In­stead ONR is ef­fec­tively say­ing we are not 100% sure but go ahead any­way. This is un­ac­cept­able and we ob­ject in the strong­est terms. As Cicero, the Ro­man con­sul, stated two thou­sand years ago, the safety of the peo­ple is the supreme law.

“While the prob­a­bil­ity of a se­ri­ous nu­clear ac­ci­dent at Hink­ley Point B re­mains low, the pos­si­ble con­se­quences are so large - the ra­dioac­tive con­tam­i­na­tion of Cen­tral Eng­land – that such risks should not be un­der­taken by any rea­son­able author­ity. It is dis­turb­ing that the ONR has re­frained from pub­lish­ing any analy­ses of pos­si­ble worst-case sce­nar­ios and their prob­a­bil­i­ties.”

Stop Hink­ley spokesper­son Roy Pum­frey said: “We call upon the UK Gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene and re­quest the ONR to re-con­sider their un­wise de­ci­sions at Hun­ter­ston B and to refuse to ac­cept EDF’S safety cases for Hink­ley Point B. It is EDF in Paris, France which will ben­e­fit from the restart of th­ese re­ac­tors, but it is those of us who live in Som­er­set and mid­dle Eng­land who are be­ing ex­posed to th­ese in­vol­un­tary risks”

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