Power plant’s double boost

Hartlepool power station
Hartlepool power station

A DOUBLE boost has been revealed for Hartlepool’s nuclear power station.

The number one reactor at the town’s energy plant, which is owned by EDF Energy, is now back on line after a month out of action for refuelling.

And in a separate development, Hartlepool as well as the UK’s other nuclear plants, have all passed safety re-assessments which were carried out after the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site, in Japan, following the tsunami last year.

A report has been published by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the UK’s independent nuclear safety regulator.

It confirms that UK sites were scrutinised to “enhance safety by learning from events in Japan”.

The findings are contained in the UK national “stress test” report submitted to the European Council.

ONR senior nuclear safety inspector John Donald said: “To date, no fundamental weaknesses in design and resilience have been identified at UK nuclear power plants, and lessons are being learnt from Fukushima to enhance safety, in line with our regulatory philosophy of continuous improvement.

“Fukushima provided the world a unique opportunity to learn from a serious nuclear accident. No matter how high our standards of safety, the quest for improvement must never stop.

“Work is already under way to improve safety at UK sites, such as bolstering flood defences and enhancing coolant supplies. We have also asked licensees of UK nuclear power stations to consider resilience against events that have only remote chances of happening in the UK.”

Dr Andy Spurr, EDF Energy’s Managing Director of Nuclear Generation said: “We are an industry that learns from experience in order to improve safety performance and safety margins. As such, through our review we have identified ways to enhance further our current robust position and ONR has reflected this in its report.

“We are already implementing these improvements in line with the ONR’s expectations.”

A 144-page report on the Hartlepool plant’s stress test has been prepared. It shows.

l The power station’s contingency plans for an earthquake are “well developed and implemented”.

l It has an adequate system for coping with extreme external flooding but it also states the “probability of a tsunami hitting the UK is extremely low.”

l It has robust plans for coping with extreme winds and lightning.

l No adjustments are needed to plans in case of a loss of electric power supply.

l Other areas such as severe accidents were also reviewed and found to be in line with procedures.