Friday, December 23, 2005

Accident last night at Torness nuclear power station

An incident at Torness Nuclear Power Station last night saw emergency services rush to the plant.

Operators British Energy said there was no threat to plant workers and no radiation leaked out.

But in June this year a Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII) report revealed that a May 2002 accident at Torness power station, which shut it down for six months at exhorbitant cost, was much more serious than previously acknowledged and that plant operators did not give a high enough priority to nuclear safety.

So how do we know who to believe?

Reports initially said that a fuel element had "moved" and it has emerged this morning that some "debris" had prevented the movement of a nuclear fuel element - the unusual behaviour of the nuclear material had triggered the emergency response.

The NII report was only made public after South Scotland Green MSP Chris Ballance used Freedom of Information legislation to obtain it.

At the time, British Energy reported the accident as "vibration problems in one gas circulator", but in fact a "loud noise" and "heavy vibration" caused "significant damage" to the cooling gas circulation system with "many loose parts", "significant deformation" and 750 litres of oil leaking into the "lower reactor area".

According to the report "the operators' ignorance of the local plant vibration monitoring system is not acceptable and there seems to be little attention afforded to vibration alarms..."

Chris Ballance, Green MSP for South Scotland said: "The incident serves to remind us of the great risks with this technology, in addition to the legacy of nuclear waste and economic costs which future generations will have to bear."


Anonymous said...

Congratulations for your blog. I haven't been able to find any reference in the mainstream media about the content of your post "Accident last night at Torness nuclear power station". Could you please help me with this because I'd like to refer to it in my enviro blog at
Thanks. Octavio Lima, Portugal

David T said...

British Energy has not published a press release on this as of the time of writing, but since writing the item I have found this on the BBC Scotland news site.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot, David. Fantastic help. Octavio Lima (