REACTOR SHUTDOWNS SPARK NEW CALLS TO CLOSE HINKLEY POINT

Bridgwater Times, 21 October 2006

Calls for Hinkley Point B nuclear power station to be closed for good were renewed this week after the announcement that the second of its reactor is to be shut down temporarily for safety checks.

When the other of the stations two reactors was shut down in September for maintenance, known as an outage, cracks were found in boiler tubes in the reactor.

This led to Monday's statement that the second Hinkley Point reactor would have to be shut down for checks.

How long Hinkley Point will be shut down will depend on the extent of the work needed to repair the pipes.

Repairs are also ongoing at Hunterston, in Scotland, and a spokesman for the owners of the power stations, British Energy, said: "The company is not able to give guidance as to when both units at Hinkley Point B and both units at Hunterston B will return to service."

Bridgwater MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has been kept informed of the action taken at Hinkley Point. He said: "I'm not in any way concerned about this. They will go through it carefully and then make a decision on how to rectify it."

But Stop Hinkley campaigners are calling for the permanent closure of Hinkley Point. Stop Hinkley spokesman Jo Brown said: "These two AGR reactors had a design life cycle of 30 years which have now passed.

"They are not tolerant of being run beyond their design closing date and the Nuclear Safety Directorate has admitted that the longer they are allowed to operate, the higher the risk of an accident."

Somerset County Council Liberal Democrat group welcomed the closure at Hinkley Point and in a statement said: "The safety of the county's residents comes before the profits of the nuclear energy sector.

"Liberal Democrats at County Hall called for the plant to be closed four months ago when news was first made public about the cracks in the reactor, news only made available because of a request under the Freedom of Information Act."

Somerset County Council recently reaffirmed its opposition on nuclear power.

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