• April 4, 2011

The Celtic League has pressed UK Energy Secretary Chris Huhne on the decision to extend the operational life of the Wylfa nuclear plant.

Recent events in Japan and Mr Huhne’s statement that “safety is always our number one concern” seem to be at odds with the decision on Wylfa.

Prior to the 2010 decision to let Wylfa continue to operate the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency stance had been that there were considerable difficulties associated with extending its operating life.

There are strong grounds to believe that safety concerns were outweighed by economic and energy needs.

The full text of the letter to Mr Huhne is set out below:

“Mr Chris Huhne MP
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place


Dear Minister,

I write further to our correspondence with you expressing concern about the decision to extend the operational life of the Wylfa nuclear plant.

I am in receipt of the response from your colleague, Charles Hendry MP, and I note specifically his comment:

“Lifetime extensions are an operational matter for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and its site licence companies (Magnox North in the case of Wylfa). Extended generation has to be approved by the Regulators and is subject to the site continuing to meet rigorous operational and safety standards.”

I appreciate the delineation between the responsibilities of DECC and the NDA however I do note your recent comment (in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster) “safety is always our number one concern”.

On the issue of the Wylfa service life extension the Celtic League also exchanged correspondence with the Isle of Man and Irish governments. The Manx government appeared to be surprised by the decision to extend Wylfa’s operational life and in correspondence the Manx Chief Minister told us:

“In March 2006, the former Chief Minister Donald Gelling, responded by letter to similar concerns regarding Wylfa’s poor safety record and the possible dangers from age related deterioration of the nuclear reactors. I note that in his letter, the former Chief Minister explained our understanding of the facts regarding Wylfa’s prospects for an extended operating life, in 2006 it was thought very unlikely that it would operate beyond 2010. At that time, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the owners of the power station, repeatedly stated that they had no wish to tackle the considerable difficulties associated with extending Wylfa’s operating life beyond 2010.”

Later in his correspondence the Chief Minister also declares:

“The Nuclear Directorate’s rationale for the extension to Wylfa’s generating life can be readily examined (Ref.1) and you will no doubt form your own opinion. Of course the Isle of Man Government’s chief concern is whether or not there has been any compromise made on the issue of Wylfa’s operational safety beyond 2010.”

(For clarity I enclose a copy of the Isle of Man Chief Ministers letter with this correspondence)

Given the recent unfortunate events in Japan and your statement that “safety is always our number one concern” can you categorically state that safety compromises were not made to allow the continued operation of the Wylfa nuclear plant, a facility, I need not remind you, which has a chequered safety record.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

Related items on Celtic News here:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


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