Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima

Hitachi- from the country that brought the world Fukushima
We feel very sad for the people of Japan who want to end nuclear energy whilst a potential new government and big business are desperate for it

No Fukushima at Oldbury

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

No to Fukushima at Shepperdine!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Greenpeace Highlights the Problems woitth New Reactors

Triple trouble for new reactor designs

Trouble, or so they say, comes in threes and so it is for the designs of the so-called new ‘third generation’ of nuclear reactors.

Look at AREVA’s European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) design. Two are currently being right now – one in Finland and one in France – and both projects are currently massively behind schedule and over budget, and plagued with safety and construction defects. The design, also currently being considered for construction in the UK, was the subject of an unprecedented statement by the UK nuclear safety regulator (HSE’s ND), the French nuclear regulator (ASN), and the Finnish nuclear regulator (STUK) which said the EPR’s safety system isn’t independent from its control system and therefore isn’t safe.

Then there’s the Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor. Also currently being evaluated by the UK authorities who late last year said that Westinghouse still had to prove its reactor is safe across ‘the majority of the technical topic areas’. The safety case on internal hazards has ‘significant shortfalls’ and regulators criticised Westinghouse for a ‘lack of detailed claims and arguments’. The US nuclear regulator found that the design ‘is vulnerable to severe weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes, and natural disasters like earthquakes’ and ‘raises the concern that the design is also vulnerable to terrorist attacks such as intentionally crashing airliners’ (the UK regulator agrees).

Which brings us the third of the troublesome trio: General Electric-Hitachi’s Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). Company vice president Daniel Roderick has announced this week that it ‘plans to sell between 10 and 15 new generation reactors in the next 10 years to Europe’. Why target Europe? Because the ESBWR has failed to take off in America with project after project of planned ESBWRs cancelled in recent months as power utilities raised ‘quality assurance contentions regarding the ESBWR design’ and looked for ‘greater commercial certainty’ (they should be wished good luck in trying to find that in the nuclear sector).

Whether the ESBWR can gain a foothold in Europe remains to be seen. The signs aren’t great. GE- Hitachi withdrew the design from the UK reactor evaluation process in October 2008 saying it wanted to concentrate on the US market (don’t laugh). The company said it planned to re-enter the UK evaluation in 2009 but a look at the regulator’s website suggests this didn’t happen.

These three really are identical triplets: late, unsafe and uncertain.

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