Continued Concern Over Reactor Vessel


Apropos of the above report your Chairman wrote to the East Anglian Daily Times fletter published L Sth March 2014):

“I wish to comment on your account [March 8) of the public meeting in Leiston (March 5) headed ‘Reassurance given over the safety of nuclear reactor pressure vessel at Sizewell B’ addressed by two senior inspectors from the Office of Nuclear Regulation [ONR). At the meeting, as the chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, I said we have been pressing since December 2012 for the immediate shut down of Sizewell B so that its reactor pressure vessel (RPV) be tested to ensure that it did not have the serious faults found in two Belgian reactors – faults which could lead to severe loss of radioactivity.

I regret to say we were unconvinced by the two inspectors’ ‘reassurance’ and who seemed to be merely reactive to the possibility of faults in Sizewell B’s RPV, rather than proactive, which is surely their role. They relied on EDF (the operator) supplying paper work written some 20 years ago covering the forging (and inspection of only part) of the RPV and an inadequate in-service inspection carried out in 2005, nine years ago, when only part of the RPV was subjected to ultrasonic testing. Furthermore, I pointed out that EDF were now prepared to carry out a full ultrasonic test of B’s RPV but not until 2016 – the next scheduled 10-year periodic safety review – far too late.

Such an offer, as I said, but only in two years time, gives us further disquiet. It implicitly shows there are good grounds for such an investigation now. I also pointed out that, subsequent to the Belgian revelations in2012,a further two reactors of the same basic design in Carolina, America, had been found to have cracks in their RPVs and consequently were shut down for repairs – an event denied by the ONR inspectors.

Despite all the above and a call by me there and then, the inspectors showed no signs of movement from their entrenched position, even though ONR’s mantra is ‘safety is our paramount concern’…”

There has been no response from the ONR even though we sent them a copy….

We discovered on 26s March (courtesy of World Nuclear News and Nuc Net) that the two Belgian reactors have again been shut down after tests showed ‘unexpected results’ regarding the mechanical resistance of the metal from which the reactor pressure vessels are constructed.

We immediately alerted the Sizewell Stakeholder Group of this alarming news in time for their Sub Group meeting on2nd April: draft minutes show searching safety questions raised of EDF, ONR and DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change)

Meanwhile, the EADT of 4tr April reported our fresh call for an early inspection of the Sizewell B RPV and ONR’s reply ‘there are no safety implications for Sizewell B’ ….