The Editor East Anglian Daily Times, 21st March 2013

21st March 2013

 The Editor
East Anglian Daily Times,
30 Lower Brook Street,
Ipswich, Suffolk.
e-mail : eadtletters@eadt.


I have just received from EDF Energy its Monthly Newsletter 552, February T}I3,which refers to the concerns we raised last September in your paper about the safety of the Sizewell B nuclear reactor pressure vessel (RPV) in the light of defects found in two similar Belgian nuclear plant RPVs, Doel 3 and Tihange 2.

Our concerns were that the same – or other – defects could be present in the Sizewell B RPV, leading to a collapse through possible cracks and resulting in a catastrophic failure with widespread dangerous radioactive emissions (c.f. Fukushima).

In EDF’s News 552 it is claimed ‘there is no evidence from Doel 3 operational experience that changes the risk analysis already presented in the Sizewell B safety case’.

But we know from the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control’s January 2013 63-page report on Doel 3 that ‘there is no safety case for a failure of a reactor pressure vessel: it is an essential and irreplaceable component and the existing safety systems are not designed to handle such an occurrence’. Furthermore, the Agency is requiring a pressure load test of the two reactor RPVs to demonstrate that there is no unexpected condition present which could lead to cracks….

Which is precisely what should happen now at Sizewell B (and worldwide all similar pressurized water reactors). Failure of the Sizewell B RPV would inevitably lead to a loss of coolant and meltdown, with a horrendous widespread release of radioactivity…,

All this has lead us to demand of the Office for Nuclear Regulation [ONR), our so-called safety watchdog that Sizewell B be stood down now and be subjected to an exhaustive succession of physical tests, and, if cracks are found, the plant closed down permanently. Nothing less will do.

To leave testing until Spring 21046 when B is due for its next 10 year Periodic Safety Review (as required by the ONR) is not acceptable: our lives may already be at risk.

We regret to report that the ONR has, so far, declined to take action now: a dereliction of its much trumpeted ‘safety is our overriding priority’ mantra.

Whatever happened to the precautionary principle?


Charles Barnett

Chairman. Shut Down Sizewell Campaign