Watchdog examines nuclear alert at Torness

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The Independent Online

An inquiry was under way last night at the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland after an incident involving fuel rods in one of its reactors.

Anti-nuclear campaigners said the incident was just the latest in a series of problems at the British Energy-owned site and called for the investigation to be wide ranging.

The incident happened on Thursday night when a spent fuel element failed to position correctly in the station's cooling pond. Police and the fire service were called to the site. The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is now investigating.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Scottish Green MP, Chris Ballance, said the incident proved once again the dangers of nuclear power, adding it was further evidence that the Government should not sanction the building of any new reactors. FoE Scotland's chief executive Duncan McLaren, said the Health and Safety Executive had had to deal with 230 separate incidents at Torness between June 2000 and June this year.

But a spokeswoman for British Energy played down the incident, saying that both reactors at Torness had continued to operate safely. "At no time was there any danger to any member of the public or station staff, and there was no leak of radioactivity on or off-site as a result of the incident," she added.

John Home Robertson, the East Lothian MSP, said: "Far from this incident being a sign of the dangers of nuclear power, the precautions taken ably demonstrate the very high safety standards to which the nuclear industry conforms."

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