• October 19, 2010



The UK government’s decision to extend the operating life of the obsolete nuclear power plant on Anglesey has been called irresponsible by the Celtic League.

In a letter to Energy Minister Chris Huhne the League highlight an HSE report ten years ago which found serious failings in a reactor core at the plant (see below).

“Chris Huhne
Secretary of State for energy and Climate Change
3 Whitehall Place


Dear Mr Huhne

Ref: Wylfa Nuclear Power Plant – Extension to operating life.

I write to express concern at the decision of the UK government to allow an extension to the operational life of the Wylfa nuclear plant. This decision is questionable on both safety and economic grounds.

Ten years ago in October 2000 the United Kingdom’s own Health and Safety Executive reported serious deterioration of the core of one of the reactors a the plant. I set out their comment below:

“Unexpected findings at Wylfa

The two Magnox reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey have been shut down since April 2000. A planned periodic shutdown of Reactor 2 commenced on 7 April 2000, to carry out a programme of inspection and maintenance, during which there were a number of unexpected findings. This caused BNFL Magnox to shut down Reactor 1 on 20 April to determine if similar features were present. It revealed similar findings to Reactor 2. The findings include: damage to the graphite surface on a number of vacant interstitial channels in the reactor core (caused by plugs at
the bottom of the channels becoming detached and levitating), failure of a number of welds in supports on the burst cartridge detection system (used for the early detection of leaking fuel) and the indication of defects in closure
welds on the superheater header penetrations. The two reactors have remained shut down while BNFL Magnox addresses these findings.

The most significant finding is that of indications of defects in the superheater header welds. The welds concerned have been inspected previously on several occasions with no significant defects having been found. During the current outage, inspections were carried out using an improved ultrasonic technique, revealing indications of defects, to varying extents, in all 64
penetrations across the two reactors. BNFL Magnox is currently developing a strategy to address this problem. For the longer term, it is examining the feasibility of carrying out repairs to the welds concerned, subject to ALARP considerations. In the interim, in an attempt to return the reactors to service while the weld repair studies are underway, it is planning a programme of modifications to ensure that in the unlikely event of a failure of a superheater header penetration closure weld, the consequences will be acceptable. This is likely to involve fitting of restraints to the headers to limit the amount of movement in the event of a weld failure.

While the work on the superheater headers is in progress, BNFL Magnox is making progress addressing the other findings of the outages. Before the reactors return to service, BNFL Magnox will be required to demonstrate to NII that an adequate safety case has been made for the superheater headers, that the other unexpected findings on both reactors have been satisfactorily addressed and also
that the original programme of periodic inspection and maintenance on Reactor 2 has been satisfactorily completed.”

These were by no means the first or last safety concerns surrounding Wylfa and its operation.

From an economic standpoint the Nuclear Decommissiong Agency (NDA) said only four years ago that it was “simply totally uneconomic” to extend the plant’s life for a further two or four years as had been proposed.

In the circumstances it is highly irresponsible of the UK government to allow a `service life extension’ to a plant which is obsolete and I trust a valid safety case, which can stand international scrutiny, will be published by the UK government.

Yours sincerely,

J B Moffatt (Mr)”

Related articles on Celtic News here:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a
broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on
socio-economic issues.

TEL (UK)01624 877918 MOBILE (UK)07624 491609

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