Sellafield will after all be subjected to a stress test

THE BRITISH government said the Sellafield nuclear plant will after all be subjected to a stress test in the wake of the Fukushima emergency, reversing its previous assertion that the plant would not be examined.
“The focus of the tests is on nuclear power plants, and the stress tests will also be applied to UK facilities in the nuclear fuel cycle, including Sellafield,” a British government spokeswoman in Brussels said yesterday to Irish Times.


The news was first that the Sellafield plant in Cumbria would not be subjected to a stress test.

Although the tests on nuclear power plants are being organised at an EU-level, the spokeswoman said to Irish Times that the examination of the Sellafield plant would be carried at a “domestic level” in Britain. She added that the Sellafield test would be carried out by Dr Mike Weightman, chief inspector of Britain’s Office of Nuclear Regulation.

Mr Hogan welcomed the clarification, saying it was always the Government’s understanding that the tests would be applied to Sellafield.

“When I met Chris Huhne not long after the serious nuclear accident in Japan, we had a useful discussion on nuclear safety issues. I underlined the continuing concerns we have about safety at Sellafield,” he said in a statement.

The tests will assess the resilience of nuclear installations throughout Europe to earthquakes, tsunamis, aircraft crashes, power failures and human error. The risk of terrorist attack will be examined separately.
As well as nuclear reprocessing, Sellafield has the largest inventory of radioactive waste anywhere in Europe, some of which is stored in ageing facilities acknowledged by the UK authorities to require active hazard-reduction programmes. It simply makes sense that such a facility would undergo these safety tests.

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