THE UK nuclear safety watchdog has boosted checks on two reactors in Scotland because of proliferating cracks in their graphite cores. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has raised its level of regulation for reactors three and four at Hunterston B nuclear power station in North Ayrshire from “routine” to “enhanced” to assess the dangers posed by hundreds of cracks. Both reactors were closed down last year while the risks of the cracks leading to a major accident were investigated. Reactor three, the older, was shut on March 9, 2018, and has an estimated 370 cracks – in breach of the ONR’s safety limit of 350. Reactor four was closed on October 2, 2018, and has an estimated 200 cracks. The reactors’ operator, EDF Energy, is urging ONR to allow each reactor to run with up to 700 cracks. ONR is expected to make a decision in the next few weeks about reactor four. Critics predict that it will be allowed to reopen for a few months and then shut down again for inspections. A decision on the future of reactor three looks much further off. EDF only submitted its safety case for restarting the reactor in June, and ONR is likely to need many months to assess it. EDF has repeatedly postponed its planned restart dates for the two reactors, with number four currently scheduled to come back online on July 22, 2019, and number three on October 1, 2019.
The National 7th July 2019 read more »
The Ferret 7th July 2019 read more »