Sunday, 8 June 2014

Dungeness - safety limits dropped

To squeeze a little more out of the magical (and extremely dangerous) radioactive atoms, why not reduce the level of safety at the nuke power plant in Dungeness? That is what EDF want to do.

They seem to have convinced the regulator that the graphite bricks at the core of the reactor that keep the thing stable, can be allowed to shrink even further so that the plant can keep operating.

I found this explanation of why they are important:

Dr Stephen King, ISIS, explains “AGRs have a graphite core which acts as a moderator to slow down the neutrons released from the fission, in order to encourage more fission. The fuel, usually pellets of uranium oxide, is arranged in rods and assembled into the core, and a coolant gas such as CO2 circulates. The core of a graphite reactor is basically made up of a lot of graphite bricks and some of those bricks have holes in them for the fuel elements and control rods. What you don't want is for these bricks to start cracking to the extent that they break or move because this could affect the control of the reactor. So it’s vital to understand graphite cracking in order to predict the long term effects.”

I am astounded that the regulator, let alone EDF think this is reasonable. Nuke power is not safe and they want to make it even more dangerous. Utter madness.

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