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Safety restriction on graphite bricks could be changed at Dungeness B power station to extend life of reactor

By Lewis Dyson

A safety restriction at a Kent nuclear power station could be relaxed so the life of a reactor can be extended.

Graphite bricks in the core of Dungeness B, on Romney Marsh, will be allowed to lose more weight before they reach their limit.

The control measures can withstand extreme heat and radiation - but they have gradually degraded over time and cannot be replaced.

Dungeness B
Dungeness B

The Office for Nuclear Regulation is assessing if the amount of weight the bricks are allowed to lose can rise from 6.2% to 8% with the plant's owners EDF Energy.

Martin Pearson, station director at Dungeness B, said: "The safety of the public and our employees is our overriding priority.

"EDF Energy takes a cautious approach, works closely with the regulator and operates with very conservative safety margins. We have stringent safety requirements.

"We carry out regular inspections, including of the graphite bricks that are part of the cores of the reactors.

"We work continuously with experts and UK universities to understand how materials in our nuclear reactors change over time and how that will affect the stations' operations.

"We regularly refine our own safety assessments as we uncover new information. We share our findings with the regulator and with the wider scientific community.

"We also share them with the local community around each of our stations."

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