EDF Energy has announced that reactor 3 of its Hunterston B nuclear power plant in Scotland will remain ofﬂine while new cracks are investigated in the reactor’s graphite core. It is an Advanced Gas—cooled Reactor [AGR), operating since 1976.
The latest cracks have appeared quicker than anticipated according to World Nuclear News. The integrity of the thousands of graphite blocks that make up the reactor core is Vital to nuclear safety — they ensure that the reactor can be cooled and safely shut down in an emergency — but bombardment by intense radiation over decades causes the blocks to start cracking.
If the graphite blocks are weakened, there’s a chance an earthquake or modest tremor could trigger a meltdown and radioactive release, consultant John Large told Deutsche Welle. “EDF can’t do anything physically to resolve the situation. The bricks were never designed to be replaced. In fact, it’s entirely inaccessible inside the reactor‘s core,” he said.
The problems with reactors raise questions when the key-route cracking becomes a problem.
from Nuclear Monitor 860, May 2018
Our Ofﬁce of Nuclear Regulation knows of this dangerous situation — they should issue a closure notice m and not wait for any further evidence of cracking taking place: Ed)