This website uses non-intrusive cookies to improve your user experience. You can visit our cookie privacy page for more information.

The Guardian article - "Documents reveal hidden fears over Britain's nuclear plants"

Mike Weightman, HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Director, Nuclear Safety, responds - 06 July 2006

Letters to the Editor
The Guardian

6th July 2006

Dear Sir/Madam,

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.

Mike Weightman,

HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Director, Nuclear Safety
Health and Safety Executive
Redgrave Court
Liverpool
L20 7HS

Updated 2011-11-07