Stop Hinkley Press Release

Campaigners rail at Hinkley 10 year license

2nd May 2007

Campaigners have branded the new life extension given to Hinkley Point B as outrageous and questioned if political motives are at play.

The thirty year old reactor has passed a ten year 'Periodic Safety Review', valid up to 2017 subject to £4.5 million of repairs shared with its sister station at Hunterston in Ayrshire.

But Stop Hinkley campaigners are astonished as only last year 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.

Key excerpts from the NII Assessment Report dated 18th July 2006 follow:

"BE predict that during the period covered by Periodic Safety Review 2 (PSR 2) the majority of fuel moderator bricks will develop a single through-thickness crack from a keyway root. Some of these may develop a second keyway root crack such that the brick may be in halves....

...Therefore brick cracking could affect channel straightness and the ability of the graphite core to meet its fundamental nuclear safety requirements...

PSR2 recognises that core lifetime is probably the dominant station life-limiting feature and that it is currently not possible to make a safety case for the graphite core to [date deleted].

Despite granting the licence, the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate have heavily criticised Hinkley Point for shortage of information on key issues and excluded important areas such as the graphite cracking and boiler tube cracking from the licence, stating that these areas of safety integrity are not even covered until the plant's currently scheduled closure in 2011.

They also highlighted the safety of steel structures as a concern together with plant ageing, obsolescence and fire risk. The regulators' published letter gives no further detail on these crucial areas for a Safety Review.

The reactors have been shut down since September due to corrosion in the boiler tubes accommodated within the same pressurised housing as the cracked reactor core.

Jim Duffy spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "I'm astonished at this inexplicable move. The regulators have contradicted their own safety predictions which said that most reactor core bricks would have cracked during this review period, including some that will be cleaved in half. It's outrageous to grant a license 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."

He added: "Hinkley is getting a license despite concerns about its age-related safety which is what the license is all about. It's like giving a car an MoT because its windscreen-wipers work when the brakes, lights and steering are knackered. This must raise questions about a political decision at a time when the Government wants to sell its shares in British Energy to aid their new build programme."

Jim Duffy, Stop Hinkley Coordinator, 07968 974805

 

 

Stop Hinkley Logo

Notes:

1. Statement on British Energy website: www.british-energy.co.uk

2. Statements on Health& Safety Executive website: www.hse.gov.uk/foi/releases/hinkleyb2.htm

3. Stop Hinkley press release regarding NII documents on Hinkley's faulty graphite 25th October 2006: