Just Three Miles from the Beautiful Lancaster Canal – Dodgy Old Nuclear Reactor with Crumbling Graphite Core…

A walk along the beautiful Lancaster canal this thursday – no one witnessing the beautiful day would be thinking about the crumbling graphite core in the nuclear reactors just 3 miles away.  Would they?  All this Useless Beauty – was a song by Elvis Costello and it made me think….  what if … if no one is here to see this beauty because the unthinkable has happened and there has been a major nuclear accident.

How can we persuade the government to Close ALL the Dodgy Old Nuclear Reactors Before the Unthinkable Happens?    From Scotland to the North West to Dungeness , EDF is running dodgy old nuclear reactors which should have been shut down long ago.

From Scotland the Sunday Herald reports “new cracks at Hunterston nuclear reactor raise radiation accident fears”

“Checks have detected fresh cracks in the graphite core of a reactor at Hunterston B in North Ayrshire.” (22nd April)

Pete Roche, a nuclear critic and consultant in Edinburgh, warned that EDF’s optimism that the reactor will restart could be misplaced. “Cracks could prevent control rods from being inserted causing the nuclear fuel to overheat, potentially resulting in a nuclear accident,” he said.

The Times (May 4th) reports “A nuclear reactor will stay inactive for months while more safety checks are carried out. Reactor 3 at the Hunterston B plant in North Ayrshire has been shut since March after inspectors found splits in the graphite bricks in its core.New cracks were then found last month and environmental campaigners called for the site to be closed. The reactor was scheduled to go back online at the start of this month but the restart has been delayed until later this year.”

Radiation Free Lakeland has reported previously on dodgy old reactors that should be closed  here in the North West

Given what is at stake and the close proximity of Heysham to centres of population at Lancaster and Preston you would think that nuclear safety would be paramount.  Not so.  Graphite bricks in the Heysham 1 reactor are cracking and starting to lose weight due to bombardment of radiation. The graphite is about to breach safety levels and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) would have had to prosecute or even shut down the plant. But instead,  EDF energy made a request to the regulators, to simply airbrush away the safety limits.

In 2014 Utility Week reported:  “EDF Energy applied to extend the limit on how much degradation can take place to the graphite bricks surrounding the nuclear core at its Kent-based nuclear site, and told Utility Week that the rest of its site are under review as safety margins continue to shrink. “The figures we have for our sites are well within the safety margins we have been set. But we will keep this under review during the operational lives of our sites, and as is usual work with the Office for Nuclear Regulation,” a spokesman for the company said. The Heysham 1 nuclear power unit is the reactor closest to reaching its safety standards relating to graphite weight loss, at just 1.5 per cent off its limit. Current average weight loss is at 10.5 per cent with its limit being 12 per cent. A final decision as to whether the Heysham plant’s lifetime may be extended to 2019 will be made by the regulator next year following detailed safety assessment of the site which will be shared with the Office for Nuclear Regulation. If the life extension is not approved a safety limit change may be unnecessary as the plant would close in 2016. However, if the plant’s life extension is approved, an application to change the safety limits may be required”.

In other words – ‘the graphite core is clapped out and no longer meets safety requirements so we need to reduce the safety requirements.’ This happened with little to no fanfare or public scrutiny.

It is way past time to Shut ALL Dodgy Old Nuclear Reactors.   Do it before the whole of the North West is shut down with an unthinkable nuclear accident facilitated by lap dog regulators.

 

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