The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the decision of EDF to extend the outages to Reactors 3 and 4 to March and April 2019 as sensible given the real problems found with the amount of keyway cracks in the graphite bricks surrounding the reactors. (1)
The two reactors have been closed now since March 2018, and so this outage means they will not have generated any electricity from Hunterston for a full year, costing EDF millions of pounds in lost income. The Office for Nuclear Regulation has received a safety case from EDF for the reopening of Reactor 4 and EDF is preparing one for Reactor 3 – these will be assessed by the regulator in its determination of whether the reactors are safe to go back into service.
This issue remains of real concern to the NFLA given the information provided to it by Dr Ian Fairlie – based on detailed discussions with the nuclear engineering expert, the sadly late John Large. Their joint assessment was that the level of cracks found to date was reaching a level that makes it difficult to reopen the reactors. (2)
This issue also could impact on EDF’s other Advance Gas Reactors fleet at Hinkley Point B, Heysham, Hartlepool and possibly even Torness in terms of their planned future operation. For EDF it is essential they try to keep these reactors running for as long as possible as they try to get the Hinkley Point C operating in the next decade.
NFLA are bringing Dr Fairlie and the NFLA Scotland Policy Advisor Pete Roche to a special briefing session to the Scottish Parliament on the 9th January, so as to make MSPs aware of the concern over these issues. The meeting, which has been co-sponsored by Ross Greer MSP and Bill Kidd MSP, will provide Scottish politicians with the opportunity to understand more about the issues around Hunterston B and the ‘Just Transition’ to protect local jobs into the future. (3)
NFLA are also shortly scheduling a meeting with the Deputy Chief UK Nuclear Inspector to get further clarity from them on progress at Hunterston B.
This is a difficult time for the nuclear project in the UK with ongoing reports in the Japanese media that Hitachi is struggling to find the finance to fund a new nuclear reactor at Wylfa in Anglesey. (4)
Despite this, the UK Government is still making it increasingly difficult for some forms of renewable energy to develop further, such as the announcement made yesterday that householders who have solar panels will receive no further benefits in payments for excess energy generated from them. For NFLA, the energy priorities of the UK Government are back to front – it is clear that it is renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage that are the answers for going forward with low carbon energy generation, rather than propping up the ever more expensive nuclear sector. The UK Government’s attempts to stop further generation from solar and onshore wind is short-sighted and a real policy error given the urgency of the recent IPCC reports on climate change. (5)
NFLA Scotland Convener, Councillor Feargal Dalton said:
“I welcome the decision to extend the outages of the Hunterston B reactors 3 and 4 to March and April 2019. These reactors should not be switched back on unless it can be proven they are safe to do so. I urge MSPs to attend our special briefing on January 9th so that they can understand the core issues of concern around safety at Hunterston B and the ways forward for maintaining local job generation. With the parallel funding problems for new nuclear, it is clear that we should now be looking to prioritise renewable energy alternatives to fill the gap that the ongoing closure of Hunterston has created. The UK Government as such needs to urgently reconsider its energy policy to take into account the changing reality in low carbon generation.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(2) See NFLA Policy Briefing 181, November 21st 2018
(3) NFLA special Briefing for MSPs on concerns over nuclear safety at Hunterston B and ‘Just Transition’, January 9th 2019, 1pm – 2.15pm, Committee Room 4, Scottish Parliament.
Sponsored by Ross Greer MSP and Bill Kidd MSP.
- Councillor Audrey Doig, NFLA Scotland Vice Convener – introduce seminar.
- Dr Ian Fairlie – Hunterston B graphite keyway cracks & AGRs – are they safe?
- Pete Roche, NFLA Scotland Policy Advisor – Hunterston B, a ‘just transition’ and local energy supply.
To attend RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org
(4) Nikkei Asian Review, 17th December 2018
(5) Guardian 18th Dec 2018