HINKLEY B TO STAY SHUT UNTIL MARCH

Bridgwater Times, 30 December 2006

Hinkley Point B nuclear power station will remain shut down until March.

One reactor was shut down in September for maintenance and when cracks were found in boiler tubes the second one was also shut down so checks could be made.

Repairs to the cracked boiler tubes are complete but a small number of defects were found in tail pipes at the top of a boiler in one of the reactors, so further inspections are needed on the second Hinkley reactor.

British Energy spokesman said the return to power was subject to the approval of the associated safety cases, adding 'that is assuming no further unexpected problems are identified by the inspections'.

British Energy said in November a March delay would cost nine terrawatt hours of output

The company has admitted that even after the work is finished the reactors will only be run at 70 per cent of capacity until a long term boiler management programme is established.

That is likely to last until March 2008 and hit output by fiveTWh a year.

Hinkley Point B is currently due to close in 2011 and is already seven years past its expected life of 25 years.

Stop Hinkley campaigner Jim Duffy said: "Our prediction of a slow death for Hinkley B looks more and more likely.

"British Energy is trying to patch it up but this unreliable old plant is so damaged they could never do enough to get it back to its original state.

"They should call it quits now rather than gambling against the regulator's worry of an accident."

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