A nuclear liaison group is considering whether to organise a public meeting over an anti-nuclear group’s claim that there is a risk of dangerous cracks appearing in the pressure vessel “heart” of the Sizewell B reactor.
Both the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the UK nuclear safety watchdog, and EDF Energy the power station operator say there is no significant risk of defects like those detected last year in two Belgian reactors occurring at Sizewell B.
The Sizewell B pressure vessel, manufactured in France, was subject to exhaustive tests before it entered operation and no defects were found during the first “in service” inspection in 2005.
The Shut Down Sizewell Campaign – which has highlighted-the discovery of cracks in a small number of other reactors worldwide – is calling for the next planned inspection, in the spring of 2016, to be brought forward EDF as a precaution is currently considering whether in view of the experience of other operators overseas, tests on the Sizewell B pressure vessel can and should be extended during the next inspection.
ONR believes there is no justification for bringing forward the date of the inspection and has offered to provide experts if the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG) decides to hold a public meeting.
A SSG sub-group will make a decision Thursday, June13, 2013 during its nextmeeting. Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said at the latest full meeting of the SSG: “There would be very serious consequences if there was a crack in the Sizewell B vessel.”
Paul Smith, the ONR’s Sizewell B site inspector said there was no justification for requiring EDF to bring forward the inspection date. “The safety case for the Sizewell B pressure vessel is of the highest order he told the meeting.
Pete Wilkinson, a Suffolk-based environment consultation and co- opted SSG member, said if a public meeting was.addressed by ONR specialists, an independent expert should also be invited.
John Lockyer, representing Dan Poulter, MP for Mid Suffolk and North Ipswich, said the integrity of the Sizewell B pressure vessel was a “very technical” matter and he queried what might be achieved by a public meeting.
East Angian Daily Times, June 13 2013
As readers of News l83, 184 and 185 will know, in the light of 2 Belgian reactors – Doel 3 and Tihange 2 – having been shut down since June 20L2 because of possible cracks in their reactor pressure vessels (RPVs), we have been campaigning since November 2012 for our Office of Nuclear Regulation ONR) to shut down Sizewell B immediately and carry out comprehensive physical safety tests on its RPV, in case of any crack conditions.
We regret to say that the ONR has on three occasions turned don our written detailed requests and instead said they will wait until Spring 2016 – two years hence – when Sizewell B is due for its 10 year Periodic Safety Review.
We find this totally unacceptable: whatever happened to the precautionary principle? And to the ONR’s mantra ‘safety is our paramount concern’?
The ONR admits ‘the consequences of failure of B’s RPV would be severe’ yet contents itself in waiting until 2016 before the necessary physical checks are carried out ….even though in its written ‘Doel 3 and Tihange 2 Reactor Pressure Vessel Inspection Findings and their implications for Sizewell B and Hinkley Point’ of 22nd April 2013, it states –
‘EDF NGL has, in Reference 1, undertaken to review the RPV weld inspection programme to assess the benefits and disbenefits of extending the future inspection extent beyond the immediate area of the identified welds. We recommend that this review be expedited to ensure that, if any enhanced inspections are agreed, they may be planned into the ten-yearly outage in 20l6.’
This means that there are areas of B’s RPV’s steel body that have not been physically checked previously in 2005)……
AII the above has safety significance for the European Pressurised Reactors proposed for Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C/D PWRs….