BBC Cons the Public with Reports of “Sadness as Somerset nuclear power station nears closure” Tell us the Truth

BBC Report

The following is a Guest Blog by Jim Duffy former co-ordinator of Stop Hinkley republished with permission from a social media post. This lifts the veil on Hinkley Point B in a way that the BBC are wilfully neglecting to do.

“No sadness on my part. It all started badly with bodged welds in the cooling circuit which luckily a welder owned up to some years later when the Chernobyl accident made him worry about the defects he and others made. A regulator told me that the whole cooling system had to be rebuilt while the welder was threatened with prosecution for his honesty and not allowed on site to show the faulty areas.

In 1995 a new low level waste incinerator was refused permission from the Environment Agency after Somerset Green Party campaigned against it with Dr Chris Busby ‘s help. It already had planning permission from the local council but Somerset County Council was worried it would pave the way for a regional incineration centre for radioactive waste. We argued it would harm people’s health.

Chris Busby researched local cancer rates from 2000 onwards which Stop Hinkley commissioned and publicised. He found a doubling of breast cancer mortality in downwind Burnham on Sea together with raised leukaemia and other cancers. BNFL announced the closure of Hinkley ‘A’ when Dr John Large also lambasted the plant for dangerous corrosion. Hinkley ‘B’ carried on running despite evidently contributing to the radioactive discharges.

In the 2000’s Dr John Large supported Stop Hinkley’s campaign to shut it down after worrying cracks and weight depletion were discovered in the graphite reactor core. The regulators forced it to operate at lower temperature and radiation levels to try to maintain safety thus generating less electricity.

At the same time we discovered that one of the three vital safety systems was never fitted to the twin reactors. The boron beads system is designed to slow down the nuclear reactions if the reactors overheat. For some unexplained reason the system was not fitted nor added later despite our protests at the increased risks from the cracks in the reactor cores.

In the mid 2000’s a 20 by 20 metre patch of radiation was found on nearby Kilve beach by a retired submarine engineer with his Geiger counter. His two dogs had died unexpectedly after digging and playing in the sand. The Environment Agency refused to visit the site for five weeks by which time they couldn’t detect the patch. It wasn’t clear if the leak came from Hinkley ‘A’ or ‘B’.

In the late 2000’s a proposal was put forward to build twelve wind turbines a mile to the west of Hinkley. There was much support for the plan and Crispin Aubrey who originally formed Stop Hinkley Expansion in the 80’s fought hard for the campaign. But Hinkley ‘B’ owners trashed the idea, saying bizarrely that a blade might break off a turbine and damage the reactor. West Somerset Council listened to their largest business rate contributor and sadly turned down the application.

So I can’t cheer at the closure of the plant as it has caused so much worry and concern over the years. Relief is more my feeling although the story isn’t over by a long chalk with all the spent fuel and radioactive waste to take care of for hundreds of thousands of years…”

by Jim Duffy

5 thoughts on “BBC Cons the Public with Reports of “Sadness as Somerset nuclear power station nears closure” Tell us the Truth

  1. Stuart Hunter

    As someone who was very close to most everything that Jim Duffy wrote about I can tell you that he simply wasn’t there. The regulator didn’t “force” anything in terms of reduced operating temperatures – the temps were reduced by British Energy in response to a known phenomenon called “stress corrosion cracking” in boiler tubes , the core weight depletion was a known and predicted behaviour as were the brick cracks. So in fact YOU are the one conning people by publishing inaccurate materials. And you still dont publish these rebuttals. You’re less transparent than the nuclear industry….that’s for sure.

    1. This is the reply from Jim Duffy “It is strictly true that British Energy undertook to reduce the operating conditions and temperature in the narrow sense that it was their decision but that would only have occurred in close collaboration with the regulators who would have forced their hand if remedial action wasn’t taken. And it’s right that this was in connection with the cracked and corroded boiler tubes. But the graphite weight loss would have also slowed down by reducing the radiation and temperature. This was a final episode in a long campaign to shut down the reactors which started when we learnt about the weight loss and cracks in the graphite core.

      We took our advice over Hinkley ‘B’ from Dr John Large, a nuclear engineer who helped develop the AGR reactors at Harwell. He was adamant that the station should close down.
      We also spoke periodically with an expert at the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate who was concerned about the weight depletion at Hinkley. It’s true that the Magnox stations informed the graphite problem developing in the AGRs, with Oldbury being an advanced case, but the risk shouldn’t be minimised. The inspectorate put a lot of resources into studying the risks from graphite problems.

      Corroded boiler tubes are a dangerous issue in themselves as noted by steam railway engineers who inspect engines annually to prevent potentially disastrous explosions.

      I have no quarrel with the workers at Hinkley and hope the decommissioning goes smoothly and the personally proceed onto further satisfying employment.”

      1. CaptD

        Similar to what happened at the twin reactors at San Onofre CA. NOTE: the huge number of almost new Replacement Steam Generator (RSG) tubes that were damaged and found by ACCIDENT!

        Click to access steamgeneratortubesplugged1.pdf

        These RSG were like giant auto radiators. There were 747 tubes inside each of the 4 RSG, each the diameter of a US dime with tube wall thickness of a credit card! Flowing inside them was super hot highly radioactive fluid circulating the reactor core fluid. To keep these tubes from melting (due to the heat), was lower pressure circulating cooling water that was vented to the atmosphere!
        If just one tube ruptured and flailed about inside, it would have damage other tubes and the reactor vessel would have drained of cooling fluid and the core would have melted down… :-0

  2. Pingback: To 15 February – the week in nuclear news | Nuclear Australia

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