‘Flood risks’ exaggerated

RECENT reports in a national newspaper suggest that Hartlepool nuclear power station is under significant risk of flooding.

The language that the newspaper used was designed to cause alarm. “Unpublished government reports obtained” obviously illustrated that there was a huge conspiracy of silence from the establishment.

All very cloak-and-dagger stuff.

The fact of the matter is a little more mundane than that.

The information on flooding risk is well known, well established, well managed and well within the public domain. If you have a computer, Google the issue and you will see a list of industry and government documents about this issue.

The reality is that Hartlepool sits on the coast. There are issues to do with flood risk across the town because we are next to the North Sea and because of rising sea levels in the next century. It has to be said, however, that this risk has been identified and action has been put in place to manage the risk.

A combination of extensive drainage systems, the sand dunes, (which apparently provide a natural and effective barrier to flood and storm risks) and concrete walls, avoids the sea from having direct contact with the power station’s components.

Again, this management of risk information is all in the public domain and available on the internet.

On the subject of flood risk, therefore, this is not something new, it is not something which the authorities haven’t considered or are not controlling and, although the newspaper article seeks to raise alarm, there is significant cause for reassurance.

Where there is more cause for concern is the ongoing issue regarding a lost memory stick containing information relating to Hartlepool’s nuclear power station.

Last Thursday was Questions in the House of Commons to the Energy & Climate Change Secretary, the first ones since the new Secretary of State, Ed Davey, took office, and the first since the incident of the lost memory stick came to light.

I asked the new Secretary of State a question, looking him directly in the eye and requesting that he provided Parliament with an update on the situation.

I’m afraid that the response wasn’t convincing.

The new Secretary of State looked baffled and had to turn to his Minister, Charles Hendry, to mouth “what is this about?” before allowing Charles to answer in his place.

It looks like the Secretary of State has not been briefed about this matter, which – given its importance – is very concerning. I have therefore asked another Written Parliamentary Question asking what meetings and briefings he has had about the matter.

I’ve said before that the safety and security of the power station is of absolute importance.

Anything which compromises that safety and security is a concern.

Although the risk of flooding has been managed well, the data loss has not. I will continue to press for answers.