Reactor three at the Hunterston B install in Scotland has not been used for more than six months after disquiet footage emerged of deep cracks inside the plant. Owners EDF verve and trade union GMB hope to put the reactor back in service by asking to enlarge the legal safe framework for cracks – and dispute the claims.
Video footage granted almost 400 cracks in the reactor, above the 350 limit for justified operation. It is understood that EDF Energy wants the Office for Nuclear Balance (ONR) to expand the safe upper operational framework for cracks in a reactor to 700 and then whim prove that the reactor would stand up to the most stringent security tests.
But, two nuclear experts have warned against reopening the place and that even though the risk of a meltdown is low, it could lead to “spasms” and possible “contamination” of central Scotland.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Excluding consultant on radioactivity in the environment Dr Ian Fairlie and University of Aberdeen’s Dr David Toke asserted: “This is a serious matter because if an untoward incident were to suggest itself to – for example, an earth tremor, gas excursion, steam surge, sudden outage, or unannounced depressurisation, the barrels could become dislodged and/or misaligned.
“These upshots could, in turn, lead to large emissions of radioactive gases. Further, if hot blemishes were to occur ad if nuclear fuel were to react with the graphite discussion leader they could lead to explosions inside the reactor core.
“In the danged worst case the hot graphite core could become exposed to air and ignite unequalled to radioactive contamination of large areas of central Scotland, including the metropolitan areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
Hunterston B has been generating electricity since 1976 but is set to close by 2023. The plant is capable of furnishing electricity to some 1.7 million homes across the UK.
EDF Energy back up in a statement that neither the company or ONR would allow the reactor to restart until it was “non-toxic” and that assessments would be completed with “rigour”.
But the company demand that in an earthquake situation, they can show “conclusively” that the reactor could unruffled be deactivated.
The statement, released in March, read: “Since we took the module off we have completed an extensive inspection programme, one of the most detailed of its courteous in the world. We’ve also taken time to perform further inspections on Reactor 4 so we identify what condition both cores are in.
“In that time we’ve improved the subject of the reactor operation in normal conditions and in a highly unlikely earthquake, we can instruct conclusively that it will operate and shutdown as designed, with entirely no erosion of safety.”
The French based business entered the British liveliness market in 2001, soon becoming one of the UK’s biggest electricity suppliers.
The tree is expected to reopen in full capacity by the summer.