Revealed: faulty nuclear reactor was allowed to operate without safety alarm
Britain's nuclear watchdog last month allowed a faulty nuclear reactor to start up even though it had not been fitted with an important safety system, startling internal documents seen by
The Independent on Sunday reveal.
The documents also show that the Nuclear Installation Inspectorate (NII) judged that the reactor, at Oldbury nuclear power station in Gloucestershire, was not safe enough to operate for the next 18 months, but allowed it to go onstream until November anyway.
The revelations - described as "deeply alarming" by top nuclear expert John Large yesterday - are bound to fuel concern at a time when ministers are encouraging the building of a new generation of reactors.
The heavily censored documents - released under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act to the Stop Oldbury campaign - come from an investigation into the safety of reactor 2 at the power station. They reveal a one-in-1,000 risk of a fire in the highly radioactive nuclear fuel, a figure that Dr Large regards as "unacceptably high".
They show that the NII pressed for the installation of a safety system, called "a failed fuel trip system", which would automatically shut down the reactor if such a fire broke out. But it accepted the response of the power station's operator, the British Nuclear Group, that "it would be disproportionate to further delay the return to service of the reactor" while it was fitted.
The NII also cast doubt on the company's ability to cope with exceptional circumstances. But the watchdog still allowed the reactor to start up last month and operate until November. In the event, within two weeks an unrelated fire broke out in a non-nuclear part of the plant, and the power station had to be shut down indefinitely.
- 1 Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
- 2 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 3 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Edgar Froese dead: Tangerine Dream founder dies aged 70
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...