STOP HINKLEY PRESS RELEASE
18 December 2012
Reactor approval "puts politics before public safety"
Campaigners have accused Britain 's Office for Nuclear Regulation's nuclear regulators of caving in to government pressure and approving a new reactor before its design has been properly assessed. The ONR had previously said that outstanding design problems would not be resolved by the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) before March 2013.
In 2009, independent nuclear experts Large & Associates warned that if the EPR licensing process was allowed to proceed on a piecemeal basis it could be compromised by having to wave through unsatisfactory aspects of the final design. More recently, they called for the ONR to come clean about delays, claiming that resolving outstanding issues by the end of 2012 deadline was unachievable. (1,2)
Speaking today, John Large said, " I was extremely surprised to hear that the ONR claim to have wrapped this all up when there are still so many unresolved problems arising from Fukushima and the central issue of Instrumentation and Control".
UK, French and Finnish regulators have been voicing concerns over "Instrumentation and Control" of the new EPR reactors for nearly a decade. Some of these concerns relate to the independence of important systems, whilst others address problems of diversity and susceptibility to common cause failures. UK regulators have previously insisted that the reactors should have a separate non- computerised safety system as a fail-safe. It is unclear from the documents in the public domain whether or not such a system is now actually proposed and if so, whether it has been assessed. (3)
The lengthy GDA process has been under immense strain, caused by a lack of technical assessors and by EDF being untimely with their submissions. As recently as Spring this year, the ONR stated that at least three control and instrumentation issues were subject to significant delays that "could not be recovered" and would "impact on the target closure date". (4,5,6)
Stop Hinkley spokesperson Nikki Clark said: "We're very concerned about this development - how can the regulators claim that these issues are resolved ahead of their target deadlines, when their own reports indicate otherwise? We will be writing to the ONR to ask how they've managed to finish the GDA ahead of recent forecasts for completion."
"The key issue of reactor safety at Hinkley C was excluded from recent public consultations by the planning inspectorate. The ONR's speedy conclusion of the GDA process makes permission more likely, yet the findings of the GDA decision will not be available for public scrutiny until March 2013 - AFTER approval for Hinkley C has already been granted!"
"The hurried conclusion of this assessment, without public transparency , has only added to our concern that regulators are now putting political deadlines before public safety." (7)
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Notes to editors