Leak at power station

Hartlepool Power Station
Hartlepool Power Station

DETAILS have just been released about a leak which took place at Hartlepool’s nuclear power station.

The incident happened in February when a cooling system at the Tees Road site broke down.

The incident was immediately investigated by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), which uncovered the problem, but a report said there was “no direct impact on the environment” and described the leak as “low level”.

The leak was mentioned in a report which has just been released by the ONR.

The incident, along with a leak of radioactive waste at Sellafield and a similar spill at Torness, near Edinburgh, were reported to Energy Minister Chris Huhne and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.

A spokesman for EDF Energy said: “We always report low-scale events so that they can be dealt with efficiently and prevent development of anything more serious.

“At Hartlepool Power Station testing of the back-up cooling system revealed that a common suction valve to some cooling pumps was only partially open and that the indication in the control room was not showing the true position of the valve.

“It is believed the valve misalignment occurred following earlier maintenance. However, it was corrected as soon as it was identified.

“There was never any danger to staff, plant or the public.”

Environmental campaigners said the three incidents, all in February, made it more important for the Government to block plans to build more nuclear plants.

Doug Parr, chief scientist at campaign group Greenpeace, said: “This illustrates that the standards have got to be so much higher at nuclear plants than at any other kind of power station.”

Hartlepool is in the running for a new-build when the currect station reaches the end of its lifespan in 2019.

Mr Huhne has already put on hold plans for a new generation of nuclear plants, at eight potential sites including Hartlepool, pending a safety review following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.