Extensive tests are to be carried out on the pressure vessel “heart” of the Sizewell B reactor as the power station closes down next month for refuelling and maintenance. Anti-nuclear groups had pressed for an earlier examination of the vessel after faults were found in two similar power stations in Belgium in 2012. However, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the UK safety watchdog, ruled there was no need for early testing at Sizewell and the work could be carried out this year when the vessel is scheduled for its routine 10-year inspection. However, EDF has pledged to carry out extra ultra-sonic tests to establish beyond doubt that the Sizewell B vessel is safe. Pressure vessel faults at Belgium’s Doel and Tihange reactors, both of which were temporarily shut down as a precaution, are thought to have occurred during the manufacturing process. Both the ONR and EDF point out that the Sizewell B vessel came from a different manufacturer and underwent most exhaustive testing before and during installation in the Suffolk plant.
Ipswich Star 15th March 2016 read more »