Call for public meeting into reactor’crack risk’ – EADT Article

“There would be very serious consequences if there was a crack in the Sizewell B vessel”

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign

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  “in service” inspection in 2005.

The Shut Down Sizewell Campaign which has highlighted the discovery of cracks in a small number of other reaetors worldwide is calling for the next planned inspection, in the spring of 2016, to be brought forward as a precaution.

EDF 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 during its next meeting. Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said at the latest full meeting of the SSG: “There would  bevery 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 hlghes torder” he told the meeting.

Pete Wilkinson, a Suffolk-based environment consultant and co-opted SSG member said that if a public meeting was addressed by ONR then a 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.