THE welcome news that Hinkley B is ‘to move into its defueling phase’ disguises the stark fact that the nuclear power station has been teetering on the verge of a potentially catastrophic breakdown since it went into its ‘Past Sell-by’ date, writes Roy Pumfrey.
The cracks in the graphite blocks that are a critical safety factor have been there for a long time and were getting worse with every year that passed.
Behind the PR spin about supposedly green electricity is an admission that the working parts of the reactors had been allowed by EdeF, with the connivance of a regulator as effective as a chocolate fireguard, to get into a pretty shoddy state.
Why else would EdeF, under the smokescreen of providing ‘clarity to . . the community’, have decided that it had to shut down the reactors early when there were supposedly still years to go in their permission to operate?
The local community should be breathing sighs of relief that, until the unlikely event that EdeF can ever get Hinkley C to work, they can toss their calendars with emergency evacuation procedures and their iodine tablets to counter a radiation release into the bin. We look to have got away with it in this instance.
For all of us, there is the prospect of a massive bill running into many millions, which we can’t afford and needn’t have had to spend, for decommissioning the reactors while they produce not a jot of electricity.
And, in the longer term, there remains the puzzle over what to do with all the highly radioactive waste that Hinkley B has produced along with the electricity.
Government promised a disposal facility would be built before work on Hinkley C ever began.
Thus far, they’ve hardly got anywhere with their quest to find a community desperate enough for the sweeteners to even consider hosting this poison dump for many lifetimes.
The recent so-called ‘Green 10 Point Plan’ ignores the savings to be made from improving energy efficiency by simply insulating the 50% of houses where heat pours out through their uninsulated walls and rooves.
Instead, Government looks to prop up failed nuclear technology and throw taxpayer money at Small Modular Reactors which, like Hinkley C, are unproven despite years of trying.
It is a sadly missed opportunity and blowing a trumpet about Hinkley B does nothing to put the country on the right energy policy track.