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Sizewell reactor 'ready to go'

PUBLISHED: 15:40 30 September 2010

BOSSES at Suffolk's nuclear power station confirmed that it was on course to be up-and-running today, following a six-month closure.

The reactor at Sizewell B has been shut down since March because higher than normal moisture levels were detected in a containment building.

Owners EDF Energy said they expected the reactor to go back on line “during Thursday.”

The Health and Safety Executive’s Nuclear Directorate has granted a licence for the go-ahead, saying it had “sufficient confidence” that the modifications have been adequately conceived and executed, and that the reactor is safe to operate.

But campaigners believe the watchdog should have been stricter in its assessment and has put public safety at risk.

The original problem was caused by one of 78 heaters associated with a component known as the pressuriser.

The Nuclear Directorate has admitted that further failure of the heaters cannot be ruled out – although it says adequate steps have been taken by the licensee to prevent any repeat event.

It is allowing bosses to replace all remaining heaters within an “acceptable timescale” with a type which is less susceptible to failure.

The proposed strategy for nuclear decommissioning, which involves Sizewell A, was set to be outlined at a public meeting.

A team of delegates from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) were set to visit Suffolk tonight (Thursday) to present a draft update of the NDA strategy – which was first launched in 2006 when the power station ceased generating electricity, and will now be updated and revised for 2011-2016.

The event is being hosted by members of the Sizewell A and B Stakeholder Group (SSG), a community body which liaises with the nuclear industry and its neighbours.

Chairman of the SSG, Richard Smith, said that he hoped local people would take advantage of the meeting. “My members welcome this opportunity for local people to take part in the process of influencing how the NDA should proceed in its important mission,” he said.

“The decommissioning sector of the nuclear industry has made good progress and is undergoing important changes at a time when public finances are being closely scrutinised.

“Despite these pressures, it is important that local priorities continue to be tackled, as they have been in the past, and we hope that local people will take this opportunity to have their say.”

The public consultation on the NDA’s Draft Strategy for nuclear decommissioning across the county is due to close on November 24.

During the consultation process the NDA is keen to hear from members of the public, nuclear regulators, Site Stakeholder Groups and trade union officials.

To view the draft visit www.nda.gov.uk

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