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Office for Nuclear Regulation approves EDF Energy plea for a safety relaxation at Dungeness B

By Sam Lennon

A safety restriction for Dungeness B has now been eased.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation has approved for the weight loss of graphite bricks, a control measure inside the station core, to go up from a limit of 6.2% to 8%.

Dungeness B
Dungeness B

The plant’s owners, EDF Energy, says this still keeps it within huge safety margins.

EDF Energy is striving to give the plant an extra 10 years of life, otherwise it could close for decommissioning as early as 2018.

Dungeness B station director Martin Pearson
Dungeness B station director Martin Pearson

Station director Martin Pearson said: “The increase in weight loss has been based on an extensive programme of modelling and sampling.

“The limits are set at conservative levels and still include wide safety margins.

“This gives us the knowledge and confidence that the reactors are well within safety limits of operation.”

EDF applied to the ONR to ease the limits.

This was criticised by South East Green MEP Keith Taylor who insisted that there must be more risk with less brick to absorb energy.

He said there was no point in having a safety standard if it was lowered.

The matter was also raised at the last full Shepway District Council meeting, on Thursday last week, when Cllr Lynne Beaumont (Lib Dem), said that upping safety limits to prolong the life of the plant raised legitimate concerns among local people.

The two advanced gas-cooled reactors at Dungeness B, numbers 21 and 22, are made up of thousands of graphite bricks that wear down with normal ageing.

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