Press Release - 8 March 2011
Hinkley Company Admits Faults at 60% of French Nuclear Reactors
Electricite de France, the energy company applying to build a third power station at Hinkley Point, has admitted safety weaknesses affecting 34 of the nuclear reactors it operates in France.
The “anomaly”, highlighted by the French state regulatory body Autorité de Sureté Nucleaire ( ASN ), means that if cooling water is lost from the reactor's primary pressure circuit, the back-up water injection safety system may not be able to prevent a meltdown of the core.
"In an accident situation, for breach of certain sizes of primary pressure, the injection from the high pressure safety system may not be sufficient enough to cool the reactor core", ASN warns in its report.
The water injection system, which is designed to inject massive quantities of “borated” water into the reactor core, halting the nuclear reaction, is the main method of delaying a meltdown if there is a major leakage of the primary circuit water.
The French anti-nuclear watchdog group Sortir du Nucleaire has called for the closure of all 34 reactors (out of a total of 58 across France ) until the issue has been adequately addressed.
In the UK , Sizewell B, the most modern nuclear power station operated in this country by EdF, was out of action for almost six months last year due to a pressuriser leak. The failure contributed substantially to the output from the company's UK nuclear fleet falling by 12% in 2010.
Commenting on the reports, the Stop Hinkley campaign, which opposes construction of a French European Pressurised Reactor at Hinkley Point, said:
"We must avoid importing French nuclear safety problems to the UK by having nothing to do with their reactor designs. EdF is already massively in debt to the tune of about £30 billion. Dealing with these problems in France will make it even more difficult for the company to keep its commitments at Hinkley, including its promised compensation payment to local communities for the disruption it will cause.”