Nuclear plant 'on target' to reopen

SIZEWELL B nuclear power station remains off-line but is on track to re-open later this year, its owner EDF Energy has confirmed.Meanwhile, a pressure group is calling on the company and environmental watchdogs to be more open with members of the public following a number of 'near misses' at the Suffolk plant.

SIZEWELL B nuclear power station remains off-line but is on track to re-open later this year, its owner EDF Energy has confirmed.

Meanwhile, a pressure group is calling on the company and environmental watchdogs to be more open with members of the public following a number of 'near misses' at the Suffolk plant.

Sizewell B was shut down in March when higher-than-normal moisture levels were recorded within the containment building.

EDF Energy says repair work is continuing and the station should return to service in the third quarter of this year.

The problem is believed to have been caused by one of the heaters associated with a component known as the pressuriser.

Jim Crawford, Sizewell B's station director, said: 'Engineers are working in the pressuriser to remove the failed heaters.

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'Although this is complex work, it is being undertaken by a team with worldwide experience of working on these types of issues and has been tested on replica equipment which was commissioned as part of the project.'

Meanwhile, the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign has called on the energy company and various watchdogs to be more open with the public after Freedom of Information Act requests discovered a number of 'near misses' at the plant.

Working on behalf of the group, John Large, of consulting engineers Large and Associates, found the Environment Agency was investigating three incidents.

These were associated with incorrect filter paper in a gas-sampling cubicle, a valve misalignment in the hypochlorination plant and an oil leak in the chiller pump.

He also found that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) told bosses to review maintenance strategies for all five safety relief valves in the plant following concerns over their testing and maintenance strategy.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said: 'This is a very serious matter that causes us great concern.

'We don't believe these so-called watchdogs are performing their duty. Members of the public must be kept informed.'

A spokeswoman for the Environment Agency said they would have told members of the public if they felt it was appropriate, but the incidents were 'very, very, minor' and therefore it was not felt necessary.

A spokesman for the NII said they provided quarterly reports on all registered sites and Mr Large's report to the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign found their response to be 'correct and sufficiently robust.'

A spokeswoman for EDF said: 'The term 'near miss' allows us to record and learn from all events on site which can be as minor as someone slipping on a wet floor in the staff canteen.

'Sizewell B is committed to open two-way communication with the local communities around the power station.

'We routinely write to local residents to provide information on the power station. Furthermore, we attend all the stakeholder group meetings to provide information on events at the station and answer any questions the public may have.

'Our target is zero harm and to deliver on this we have a robust internal reporting system for any event regardless of how minor it is. We share all such information with our regulators to ensure we perform to the highest standards.'

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