Bridgwater Times, 5th May 2007

Hinkley Point nuclear power station could continue in operation for another 10 years, it was revealed this week - and Stop Hinkley campaigners are furious. They have branded the life extension from industry regulator the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate as 'outrageous' and questioned if political motives were at play.

The inspectorate has agreed a safety review of the plant until 2017, effectively giving the power station a clean bill of health for another decade.

But at least £4.5 million worth of work must be carried out at the site and its sister station Hunterston B, near Glasgow .

However, if the timescale slipped, then there could be future enforcement action, the NII said.

The news strengthens the hand of those at British Energy who want to extend the life of Hinkley Point B , which is currently due to close in 2011. Shares in the firm surged more than five per cent after the NII decision.

The company is now considering whether it makes financial and technical sense to keep running the plant beyond 2011 and will make a decision by next March.

The Stop Hinkley campaigners say it was only last year that the nuclear safety regulators published documents saying Hinkley's cracked graphite reactor core prevented it being re-licensed as there was an increased risk of an accident with prolonged operation of the plant.

The reactors have been shut down since September due to corrosion in the boiler tubes within the same pressurised housing as the cracked reactor core, but British Energy expects it to be running again this month.

Jim Duffy, spokesman for Stop Hinkley, said: "I'm astonished at this.

"It is outrageous to grant a licence to a reactor in this dangerous condition.

"No amount of money thrown at Hinkley can repair the crumbling reactor core, which is too radioactive and inaccessible to work on. Hinkley is getting a licence despite concerns about its age-related safety, which is what the licence is all about.

"This must raise questions about a political decision at a time when the Government wants to sell its shares in British Energy to aid its new-build programme."


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