World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Cracked reactor cores have "increased risk"

Cracked reactor cores have "increased likelihood of increased risk"

London, International July 5 2006: Nuclear power stations operated by British Energy (BE) in the UK are structurally defective and their continued operation is increasing the risk of a radioactive accident, according to documents written by the Government's own nuclear inspectors.

The revelation, which comes just days before the Prime Minister is expected to give the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear generators, has been revealed in correspondence passed to Greenpeace UK between British Energy (BE), who operate the reactors, and the Nuclear Safety Directorate (NSD).

"These shocking documents don't just show the structural damage to nuclear reactors in the UK, they show the incompetence of the Government and British Energy who have known about these risky cracks yet have refused to do anything about it," said Shaun Burnie, Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner. "It is clear that Tony Blair should shut these dangerous reactors down. Nuclear is never safe and Blair should not proceed with plans to build even more nuclear plants, renewable energy is the safe, clean answer to climate change - not nuclear."

The documents, analysed by independent nuclear engineer John Large, show that the bricks which make up the reactor cores of UK's 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs) currently in operation are cracked (1). In a severe event the cracked graphite bricks could cause safety mechanisms to fail potentially resulting in a nuclear accident.

"The nuclear safety case for these reactors centres around the core remaining structurally sound during operation. Yet these documents show that there are considerable uncertainties about the core's ability to fulfil its crucial safety role, said John Large. "In view of the increased risk presented by the continued operation of these nuclear plants, the reactors should be immediately shut down."

In an assessment report on the safety of Hinkley Point AGR nuclear power station in Somerset, dated in April this year, the NSD concluded that there is "an increased likelihood of increased risk should we agree to continued operation" (2).

Local resident, Jim Duffy, who lives in the shadow of Hinkley Point, (3) said: "I was appalled to read these documents, it is clear that Hinkley is unsafe and should be shut immediately. I'm extremely worried that Tony Blair seems hell-bent on leaving my children, and future generations, exposed to the legacy of our highly dangerous nuclear industry."

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organisation which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems, and to drive solutions essential to a green and peaceful future.

Notes to editors

(1) There are 14 AGRs in the UK, across the following sites: Dungeness in Kent (2), Hartlepool (2), Heysham in Lancashire (4), Hinkley Point in Somerset (2), Hunterston in Ayrshire (2) and Torness in East Lothian (2).

(2) The safety issues identified by the NSD are:

* Graphite bricks that make up nuclear reactor cores are extensively cracked;

* BE does not have a full understanding of why the reactor cores are cracked;

* BE does not know the extent of the damage;

BE does not know how much cracking the core can sustain before it falls below the minimum safety required for a nuclear reactor.

(3) Jim Duffy is part of the 'Stop Hinkley' campaign and was the individual who got the Government's nuclear inspectors documents released through the freedom of information act.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news