Letters to the Editor
6th July 2006
Your story on Hinkley Point B nuclear power station (July 5) is misleading in its reference to "hidden fears". Graphite brick cracking is not a new issue but we have required increased graphite inspections by British Energy to ensure close monitoring.
I must refute John Large's accusation that we are reluctant to take regulatory action. My inspectors have the power to limit the operation of reactors or shut them down and have no qualms about using these powers. The shutdown of reactors at Heysham 1, Hartlepool and Oldbury and the THORP facility at Sellafield are examples of this. THORP will remain shut until my inspectors are content that it is safe to restart. We have also brought a criminal prosecution against British Nuclear Group Sellafield Ltd, though there is no evidence of harm to workers or the public. Our sole concern is safety, not any political considerations.
At Hinkley Point B, there is no evidence that the reactor safety systems are compromised. I can assure your readers that we would not allow the reactors to continue operating if we were not confident in their safety.
HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Director, Nuclear Safety
Health and Safety Executive