Concerns at reactor restart bid
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”