The extreme rainfall, strong winds and high tides of this winter have exposed the vulnerability of the British coastline to erosion and flooding.
It is therefore clearly in the public interest to know about any measures that are being taken by the nuclear industry to avert potential flooding of the country’s nuclear reactors, most of which are built on the coast.
EDF, which is largely owned by the French Government, has done nothing illegal in playing down the lengthy outage at Dungeness B due to the re-building of the station’s flood defences.
But doing the bare minimum in terms of public information does the company little credit.
Following the Fukushima accident in March 2011, the UK’s nuclear facilities were scrutinised by Mike Weightman, HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and head of the Office of Nuclear Regulation.
Dr Weightman was specifically charged with the task of searching for Fukushima-like vulnerabilities, but found none.
“I remain confident that nuclear facilities in the UK continue to be safe to operate and I remain confident in the robustness of the nuclear safety regime in the UK,” Dr Weightman said when his report was published in October 2011.
However, this confidence is not universally felt by the wider public, largely because of the industry’s long history of obfuscation and untruths – such as the notorious cover-up of the 1957 fire at Windscale (now Sellafield).
Given this record, EDF should know that it has a moral as well as legal duty to be as transparent as possible when it comes to safety.