• November 2, 2015


The Celtic League has written to the Acting Chief Executive of the Office of Nuclear Regulation querying the safety of continued operation of the Heysham 1 nuclear plant.

Problems were indentified as long ago as 2007 with the reactors and more recently further problems involving cracks in the boiler spine caused the plant to be shut for a time and then returned to service at reduced power.

The League question the wisdom of allowing an extension of the plant which should have been shut last year for a further five years (until 2019).

The ONR recently appointed a new Chief Executive, Adriènne Kelbie who said on her appointment;

“There has never been a greater need for effective regulation, given the growing part that nuclear energy plays in the UK. This is a matter of legitimate public concern, and national security. I’m looking forward to working with the Board and staff to help ONR achieve its vision as an enabling and responsive regulator that ensures industry maintains high standards, controls its hazards effectively and has a culture of continuous improvement.”

It is to be hoped that she applies this philosophy to the decision of her predecessors to allow continued operation of this fault prone ageing nuclear plant.
“Les Philpott
Acting Chief Executive
Office for Nuclear Regulation
Building 4 Redgrave Court
Merton Road
L20 7HS

31st October 2015

Dear Sir,

I am writing to express our concerns to you about the decision to continue to allow the operation of the Heysham 1 nuclear power station.

As you are aware the stations original service life was to end in 2014 but a service life extension was granted until 2019.

You are aware that the plants reactors have a boiler spine defect (which requires it presently to be run at a reduced temperature) I understand a catastrophic failure of the boiler spine could lead to a significant release of radiation. Can you confirm that the defects persist, the reactors are operating at reduced output, and that failure of the spine would cause such a release?

I understand that as long ago as 2007 an additional issue in relation to wire corrosion was indentified and although the reactors were closed after repairs it was allowed to be restarted.

I think it is irresponsible of ONR to allow this plant to continue and one must assume that safety concerns are playing second fiddle to UK winter energy requirements.

Can ONR give a cast iron assurance about the safety of these reactors which have identified faults and yet have been given extended service life?

Yours sincerely
J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”


At the time the cracks referred to were identified ONR said that the spine:

“supports the weight of an entire boiler and its failure could lead to water entering the reactor vessel”.

“The potential worst consequences of water entering the reactor vessel is an over-pressurisation of the reactor which could result in lifting of the reactor pressure relief valves. If this was to occur co-incidentally with fuel damage then there could be a direct path to the environment and a release of radiation”

It described this as a ‘worst case scenario’.

The particular problem is specific to Heysham 1 and another plant at Hartlepool.
Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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