Anti-nuclear activists have written to the Chief Inspector at Britain’s nuclear regulator, the Office of Nuclear Regulation, offering him their support to resist government demands to extend the lives of the Advanced Gas Cooled Reactors (AGRs).
In recent days, there has been media speculation that the Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is looking to persuade nuclear operator, EDF Energy, to make a ‘safety case’ to the regulator to extend the operational life of AGR Hinkley Point B, which is due to close in July.
Now campaigners from Stop Hinkley have joined Dr Paul Dorfman, Chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group and Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities to send a joint letter to Chief Nuclear Inspector Mark Foy asking him to stand firm against any government pressure, and they have requested a meeting to discuss their fears that these reactors are becoming increasing unsafe as the graphite moderator bricks which regulate their reaction are cracking up.
In 2006, renowned independent nuclear consultant, the late John Large, published a report on problems at Hinkley Point B and other AGRs based on his analysis of industry documents in which he concluded that the ‘significant uncertainties over the structural integrity and residual strength of the moderator cores’ meant that ‘the reactors should be immediately shut down and remain so until a robust nuclear safety case free of such uncertainties has been established.’ 
A decade later, and John Large said that it was ‘gambling with public safety’ to allow Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B to continue operating. Hunterston B has now closed, but Hinkley Point B remains operational on ‘borrowed time.’
In 2017 the Office of Nuclear Regulation made a concession to EDF Energy by doubling the percentage number of cracked graphite bricks that were permitted from 10 to 20% of the total. In recent years, cracking has worsened across the AGR fleet, and cracks in the vital Keyway Route bricks have just been discovered at Torness, Reactor 1, which is the currently the last reactor scheduled to be closed in 2028.
For more information, please contact NFLA Secretary Richard Outram by email on email@example.com or telephone 07583 097793
 Brief Review of the Documentation Relating to the Graphite Moderator Cores at Hinkley Point B and Other Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors. Large and Associates, June 2006.
Photo: Hinkley Point B reactor from the beach (credit: Robin Somes)