Fed with fuel from Springfields Nuclear Fuels near Preston, the nuclear industry is operating nuclear reactors on sites from Scotland to the South of England with dodgy graphite cores. These reactors are way past their design life and like everything else in the nuclear industry are rotten to the core!
The Ferret reports that :
“The graphite cores of two ageing nuclear reactors at Hunterston in North Ayrshire have begun to crumble as cracks spread, prompting safety inspectors to impose tough new conditions threatening future operations.
Technical reports released by the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) reveal that at least 58 fragments and pieces of debris have broken off the graphite bricks that make up the reactor cores.
According to ONR there is “significant uncertainty” about the risks of debris blocking channels for cooling the reactor and causing fuel cladding to melt. This could cause an accident and a leak of radioactivity.
Here in the North West in Lancashire, Heysham is on an equally dodgy footing with unplanned outages a clue as to the dangerous situation we are all being put in.
This is a Freedom of Information answer to questions we asked about the unplanned outage and subsequent NOISY restart of Heysham 2 which has the same problem of brittle graphite as Hunterston.
Please find our response to the points you raise below:
On the evening of Monday 12th August 2019, a reactor at Heysham 2 was manually tripped and safely shutdown. The operators took this positive action due to a loss of electrical supplies to a control circuit. Although this event did not affect any safety circuits, ONR consider that the tripping of the reactor was the proper response to such an event rather than “a dangerous indicator that things are not under control”. As such we can confirm that ONR has no nuclear safety concerns as a result of these events and there was no risk to the public.
The event was reported to ONR and investigated by EDF to identify the root cause of this event and actions required to prevent recurrence. The ONR site Inspector subsequently discussed this event with the EDF site team and is satisfied that the loss of supplies was not related to design lifetime; did not affect any safety circuit; and that appropriate actions to prevent reoccurrence have been identified. The site inspector has confirmed these actions were implemented.
The reactor was started three days later following the investigation mentioned above and the necessary action to restore electrical supplies to the control circuit. That evening loud bangs were heard. These were caused by the opening and closing (cycling) of pressure relief valves during the reactor start-up activities. This occurred in response to changes in steam pressure. Quick opening and closing of these heavy valves can often make a loud banging noise. On this occasion, these noises continued for a period of about twelve minutes. This combined with the timing (on a relatively silent night) of the activity resulted in the sound being heard in the vicinity of the power station.
We hope that you find this information helpful in addressing your concerns.
Finally, I can also confirm receipt of your email dated 8 October 2019 concerning Hartlepool 2. We are processing this as a separate query (with reference HPGE201910056), and aim to provide a response as soon as possible, certainly by 7 November 2019.
Policy & Communications Directorate
Redgrave Court, Merton Road, Bootle, L20 7HS