Thumbs-up for power plant

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ENERGY chiefs have given the thumbs-up to Hartlepool’s nuclear power station after a stringent series of tests.

But they have still revealed plans to bring in even more safety measures.

The plant is one of the EDF Energy-owned nuclear facilities which was probed as part of a European Union review in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and power plant disaster.

The EU called for a programme of stress tests across the member countries and each nuclear operator had to submit details of safety assessments to its nuclear regulators, with details also being sent on to the EU next year.

A team of experienced EDF professionals, as well as independent experts carried out the Comprehensive Safety Assessment, which will be published by the Office for Nuclear Regulation “in due course”.

But EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said in the meantime: “Our Comprehensive Safety Review has confirmed the safe design of our UK nuclear fleet.

“The assessment has proved that we are very robust under the most extreme scenarios, even those far beyond what could ever be plausible in the UK – including combinations of flooding, seismic events, fire and extreme weather.”

Mr de Rviaz added: “We’ve taken the scenarios even further – many times beyond the scenarios the plants are designed for in some cases – and found that we would continue be very robust under these extreme conditions.”

But EDF Energy has still decided to extend its safety levels even further.

Mr de Rivaz added: “We have been able to identify ways to further enhance our current very safe position; for example we will invest in additional back-up equipment such as electrical supplies for cooling systems, equipment related to fuel pond cooling and emergency command and control facilities to help us recover if the worst does happen, however low the probability.

“In addition we have reviewed our processes and training programmes and carried further work including additional refresher training in accident management for key technical staff.”