Flamanville nuclear reactor: 'Multiple failures in crucial safety valves'

SERIOUS safety concerns have been raised over new faults discovered in a reactor currently being built at the Flamanville nuclear site - 22 miles from Jersey's coast.

Flamanville nuclear reactor: 'Multiple failures in crucial safety valves'

The body responsible for French nuclear safety, IRSN, reported that it had discovered multiple failures in crucial safety valves which could cause a meltdown.

The news comes after it was announced just last month that excessive levels of carbon had been found in the structure's steel reactor vessel, increasing the risk of it cracking which could cause radiation to leak.

However, Joseph Carnegie, emergency planning officer for the States of Jersey said there is no current risk.

'The reactor will not be operational for around five years so currently there is no risk at all,' he said.

'France has one of the safest and largest nuclear operations in the world and although if there was an accident it would have the potential to be very serious, the risk of it actually happening is very low.'

A similar fault was found to have caused a serious nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, in 1979 when a relief valve failed to close, allowing coolant to escape and causing radiation to leak into the environment nearby.

Mr Carnegie added: 'We are very linked in with the relevant authorities in France. There are various systems in place including a direct hotline between the French and police headquarters.

'If there was a problem when the plant eventually goes operational, we would be made aware very quickly.'

The new reactor, which has been plagued with various technical problems and is around €5 billion over budget, is now due to begin service in 2017 - five years behind schedule.

Asked if he was losing confidence in the project, Mr Carnegie said: 'No, I am not. The fact that the French authorities are being very open with the problems that they are having is a very good sign.

'It is reassuring that we are being told about issues such as these. In other countries with nuclear projects, these sort of problems are something that they would be trying their hardest to cover up, so I think in that respect we are quite lucky.'

He added: 'My Guernsey counterpart and I, along with several representatives from the States will be going to meet the French authorities in July and this is something that we will be discussing.'

The affected structure is one of three reactors at the plant run by the energy giant, EDF, the first of which came into service in 1986.

The project is part of France's nuclear renaissance programme which aims to replace ageing reactors due to be taken out of service in 2020.

Up yer in mah neck of the woods bein' born with the odd surplus finger or two ain't all that uncommon and can even be considered an advantage (as demonstrated bah the victory of lasy year's Parish Piano team in that i-stedford thing they got in town).

Still, there are limits; bein' born with an extra finger in the centre of yer forehead is considered pretty unlucky wherever yer from.

Poor old Pete le Brocq; him and his girlfriend Petra (le Brocq) didn't half take some stick upon returning to the village with their newborn, despite their bravest attempts to hide it's deformity bah carryin' it round bah the head like a boule.

As usual, the culprit behind little Rocky le Brocq's bonus digit was quickly indentified. Flamanville, we whispered, with a sympathetic nod towards Pete and Petra's mum. Ruddy Flamanville again.

It ain't easy living with a nuclear power plant reacting on yer doorstep (let alone a French one) but over yer in Jersey we been doing just that since the mid 1980s when they first plugged the thing in. Ah'm no physicalist but apparently the whole thing works like a giant kettle with a ruddy great nuclear thing where the element should be. Or something lark thet. Don't be quotin' me for yer GCFEs or nothin'.

Recently the States of Jersey got all shirty abaht the construction of the new third reactor, set to be fizzin' out nukelies some tarm soon.

A report written in 2006 expresses concern 'baht the possibility of some nutter flyin' an airplane into it. Not kwart sure why anyone would want to be doin' thet, thugh it certainly meks a welcome alternative to landin' in Guernsey, so who knows? Keep thet bunker stocked...

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