Report: Cracks found in cores of UK nuclear plants

Published: Monday July 10, 2006

Print This | Email This

Documents have revealed that Britain's nuclear reactor cores are cracking, according to the group Greenpeace.

The cracks were identified in the bricks that make up the reactor cores of UK's 14 advanced gas-cooled reactors currently in operation. In a severe event, the cracked graphite bricks could cause safety mechanisms to fail, potentially resulting in a nuclear accident.

"The nuclear safety case for these reactors centres around the core remaining structurally sound during operation. Yet these documents show that there are considerable uncertainties about the core's ability to fulfil its crucial safety role, said nuclear expert John Large.

Large has called on the reactors to be taken offline immediately.

UK nuclear officials have told the media that the cracks are part of the "normal aging process," and are nothing to worry about.

But Greenpeace claims that the government's own inspectors quoted in the newly-acquired documents would disagree.

"There is significant uncertainty in the likelihood and consequences for core safety functionality posed by graphite component and core damage," writes one.

A report by the government of the United Kingdom on energy policy is due tomorrow, and is expected to include a push for greater emphasis on nuclear power.