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Cracks discovered in nuclear reactor at Hunterston power station

The fractures were discovered in two of 6000 graphite bricks in the core of reactor four at the station.

Hunterston B Advanced Gas Cooled (AGR) nuclear power station energy industry in Ayrshire
EDF Energy

Cracks have been found in the core of a nuclear reactor at the Hunterston B power station in Ayrshire.

The cracks were discovered in two of the 6000 graphite bricks in the core of reactor four at the station.

Operator EDF Energy said the cracking had been predicted and would not affect the operation of the rector.

Colin Weir, station director at Hunterston B, said: "Every time we take the reactor out of service for planned maintenance we inspect the graphite core.

“During the current Hunterston outage we found two bricks with a new crack, which is what we predicted as a result of extensive research and modelling.

“It will not affect the operation of this reactor and we also expect that a few additional cracks will occur during the next period of operation.

“The small number of cracked bricks found during routine inspection is in line with our expectations, the findings have no safety implications and are well within any limits for safe operation agreed with our regulator."

The nuclear power station began operating in 1976 and was originally scheduled to be shut down in 2011, however this was later extended to 2016.

EDF Energy later said a technical and economic evaluation of the plant confirmed it could operate until 2023.

Lang Banks, WWF Scotland director, added: "News of yet more cracks in the country's ageing fleet of nuclear power stations underscores why we're right to be taking steps to harness cleaner, safer forms of energy.

"These cracks are a sign that we can expect these nuclear facilities to become increasingly unreliable in the future. As Scotland continues to grow its renewables capacity we can look forward to a day when we can switch off nuclear power for good."

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