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Consultant critical of N-plant fault 'secrecy'

PUBLISHED: 13:30 01 October 2010

A NUCLEAR expert has hit out at secrecy surrounding a Suffolk nuclear power station's six-month closure.

Peter Wilkinson spoke out as energy bosses confirmed the Sizewell B reactor had begun operating again yesterday (Thursday, September 30).

It has been shut down since March after a small leak – later traced to the bottom of a pressuriser – was detected.

Mr Wilkinson, an environmental consultant and nuclear expert based in Peasenhall, said: “It’s our flagship nuclear power station and it’s been out of action for the last six months and the local people don’t know and have not been told enough about how or why.

“The explanation of what’s gone wrong and any concerns have been confidential. Trying to find out what is going on, we run up against commercial secrecy all the time.

“I think when you have got the primary objective of making money you create concerns. I know the regulator is there and it is doing a good job, but the fact is the pressure is on – especially in these uncertain times – to make money.”

EDF Energy, the firm that runs the reactor, has not revealed how much the six-month closure has cost, but Mr Wilkinson estimated it ran to “tens of millions of pounds”.

The Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate granted a licence for the reactor to resume.

But Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said the directorate was not doing its job properly and should have been much stricter in its assessments.

A spokeswoman for EDF Energy said: “Sizewell B is committed to being a good neighbour and has regularly communicated with the local community throughout this outage.

“In addition to the routine letters, newsletters, and attendance at the site stakeholder group meetings, the station has also introduced a telephone information service for local residents.”

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