Stop Hinkley Press Release
9th May 2008
Hinkley faces closure over missing safety system
Hinkley Point B has been warned by the nuclear regulator that it faces being shut down this year if it does not fit a 'tertiary' safety system at a cost of many millions.
Campaigners are calling for a public inquiry, astonished that the 'boron beads' system was never fitted as this leaves the ageing and corroded reactor vulnerable with only two lines of defence.
Advance Gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) are designed with three safety systems: the control rods and articulated control rods descend into the reactor core when it is 'tripped' and shut down the nuclear reaction. If that fails, as in the case of misaligned channels, now possible with severe corrosion and cracks, then nitrogen gas is injected into the reactor. This temporary response depends on the reactor pressure for success. The final line of defence is the 'boron beads' system with boron beads or dust poured into the reactor core, soaking up the neutrons and probably meaning the end of the reactor but at least stopping a runaway scenario.
Jim Duffy spokesman for Stop Hinkley said: "British Energy's mantra is safety is their priority but it's astonishing and criminal that a reactor can be built with this crucial line of defence missing, especially when it's part of the design. Even worse when you consider the 25 percent corrosion the worst parts of the reactor core is experiencing plus the surprise discovery of badly corroded boiler tubes within the reactor vessel last year. Who can trust an industry like this? Hinkley should shut down now and a public inquiry held into how this alarming situation came about. What cover-ups were involved? Heads should roll."
The news emerges the day after Hinkley 'tripped' mysteriously. British Energy offered no explanation despite the obvious public safety interest, claiming the incident was 'commercially sensitive'.
Jim Duffy said: "No doubt British Energy wants to preserve its best price while the company is being sold off to EDF or other bidders. But they cannot use this as an excuse to hide from the public what's going wrong with this cracked and corroded reactor especially as the designed safety systems are not in place."
Jim Duffy. Stop Hinkley, 07968 974805