Radiation Free Lakeland fully endorse the views of David Autumns in his letter below. Namely that Hunterston B SHOULD NOT be restarted. SEPA, and the ONR have a duty of care to the public. Scotland is producing more energy than it needs from renewables. There is no ‘need’ for Hunterston B to be restarted and in any event to put the public in certain danger of nuclear catastrophe is beyond madness.
We, to use the phraseology of Extinction Rebellion, DEMAND that Hunterston B (fuelled by Springfields Nuclear Fuels at the end of Preston New Road) is mothballed – it is way beyond time.
On behalf of Radiation Free Lakeland
Dear ONR and all at EDF
This report addresses all of my concerns about the further operation of Hunterston B and then promptly ignores them by using statistics. As Mark Twain claimed, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
The radiolytically damaged graphite cores of Hunterston B have shrunk and begun to crack and distort such that 12 of your boron steel control rods in Reactor 4 have to have gimbal joints in them so they can snake down the now distorted holes in the core. It addresses my concerns about graphite debris cracking from the graphite bricks and falling down the holes potentially blocking the path of the control rods used to control the power output of the core and shut it down if necessary. It addresses my worry that the CO2 cooling channels drilled through the bricks may become offset/debris-filled such that the coolant is impeded causing hotspots within the core that may lead to fuel clad melt and release of radioactive isotopes from the fuel rods. It addresses the age of stress tendons passing through the concrete pressure vessel – which in this case is also the biological shield, there is no secondary containment at Hunterston B. It addresses my concerns about the cooling Gas Circulators which have failed twice in the last 6 months. It confirms that the only backup mechanism you have at Hunterston B is the neutron absorbing Nitrogen Gas that can be emptied into the reactor if the control rods fail. The same Nitrogen Gas whose control valves failed in the last 6 months. It addresses the issue that the reactor has been running since 6th February 1976 and is now has a runtime of 43 years. The control panels for the reactor are of the same era and one caught alight recently in the Fuel Handling Area. As to be expected your MTBF is reducing with age.
The mass of the graphite core has reduced and it is cracked throughout with some bricks having multiple cracks in them. The purpose of the graphite core is to maintain the spacing between the Uranium filled fuel rods such that don’t become naturally critical. It allows space for the neutron absorbing boron control rods to move in an out of the reactor unimpeded to control the rate of the fission reaction and shut down the reactor when needed. Holes drilled in it allow the CO2 gas to circulate through the core to cool it and remove the heat to boil the steam in 8 boilers that live within the biological shield of the reactor. The graphite also has the duty to slow the neutrons as they escape the Uranium atoms as they fission allowing them time to break another Uranium Atom and continue the Nuclear reaction. The core at Hunterston B has been doing this for 43 years at 600C in an atmosphere of CO2 at 600 PSI and as a result, there’s not as much of it left as was originally intended. It is less dense and it is full of cracks which means it’s moderating duties are reduced and alter randomly throughout the core.
Now forgive me if I am wrong but the case for the Reactor restarting is that each and any of my worse fears are statistically unlikely to occur in the 4 short months the ONR has granted the license for this damaged ancient reactor to run for. To this I say – the once in a millennium flood is just as likely to occur tomorrow as it is on any of the other 365,242 days of the next 10 centuries.
I am planning 2 trips in my Motorhome over the next 2 weeks of about 2000 miles in total and as a result, What has this got to do with Hunterston B ? Well, I have replaced my 2 back tyres. Were my tyres punctured? No. Did my tyres have a leak? No. Were the treads at or below the legal limit? No. So why change them for new ones? Well beyond about 5 years the rubber making up a tyre becomes perished and I could see some cracking in the sidewalls of my rear tyres. Those tyres are made up of a number of plys and I could see the effects of ageing on the outside covering. Now I could have driven my Motorhome with those legally treaded tyres over those 2000 miles and arrived home safely – that’s one potential outcome. Or… I could due to the ageing of my tyres have had a blowout at speed swerved across a carriageway and wiped out an innocent family coming the other way.
I chose to get rid of my tired old tyres…
From the ONR’s Website.
“The Office for Nuclear Regulation is responsible for the regulation of nuclear safety and security across the UK.
Our mission is to provide efficient and effective regulation of the nuclear industry, holding it to account on behalf of the public.”
Dear ONR please, in this case, live up to the values of your mission statement
I will ask EDF and ONR once again for the safety of the citizens of Scotland and beyond – Glasgow is just 27 miles away from this Reactor
Please don’t return Hunterston B Reactor 4 to service on the 30th August 2019.