Heading for a nuclear blackout?
BBC File on 4, Tuesday 5th December 2006
The shut down of six nuclear reactors has dealt a massive blow to British Energy.
Twenty-four percent was knocked off the company's shares when it emerged earlier this year cracks had been found in the pipes at Hinkley Point power station in Somerset , England .
Leaks were found also found in the cooling system pipes at a plant in Hartlepool , England and cracks were discovered in boiler tubes at its Hunterston BR3 power plant in Scotland .
But the effects go far beyond the stock market.
Some analysts fear that the current shut down puts the UK at greater risk of power cuts and outages especially if there is a winter cold snap.
The government maintains it has spare generating capacity to cope with any shortfall.
But some observers claim that ministers are less confident in private.
Julian O'Halloran investigates if the UK has become dangerously dependent on a fleet of ageing and decrepit nuclear power stations?