Rye safety team make a visit to power station


Members of Rye’s REACT emergency group were able to get safety assurances when they made a recent visit to Dungeness B nuclear power station.

The group’s chairman Colonel Anthony Kimber was joined by members Mike Slavin, Granville Bantick and John Holbrook.

He said: “This was part of an ongoing programme to consider all those risks, which might impact on the community of Rye.”

The Station recently announced an ten year extension to its life-span, which will safeguard local jobs.

It has also introduced improved safety measures, including a rockwall on the beach to protect the station from extreme incidents.

Colonel Kimber said: “After thorough safety briefings, there was a very informative tour, which took in all the main parts of Dungeness B, expertly guided by EDF’s Sarah Mayberry. During the tour, REACT saw work underway to dismantle the neighbouring Dungeness A station, which was decommissioned in 2006.

“We then had a very open meeting with Station Director, Martin Pearson.

“We were interested in the engineering assessments which lay behind the extension of operation to 2028.

“The two Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors at Dungeness B incorporate thousands of graphite bricks. This graphite core acts as a moderator to slow the neutrons sustaining the nuclear reaction. Over time the graphite cracks and suffers loss of mass. This is well known and anticipated within set safe margins.

Its state is carefully monitored with a continuous programme of, inspection and physical sampling of the graphite core.

“Mr Pearson explained that his number one priority was safety. Life extension, which has been approved by the Office of Nuclear Regulation, means the station will continue to provide hundreds of skilled jobs and provide more than £40m to the local economy.

“With the conversation turning to risks, Mr Pearson explained that lessons had been learnt from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Although a tsunami type risk was low, there could be sea flood risk aggravated by tidal surge. To mitigate this there has been investment in additional rock protection on the foreshore, a 1.5m perimeter flood defence wall, additional resilience measures for its control systems and additional contingency support for its vital sea-water cooling plant.

“Although built on shingle, the station is securely tethered to deep concrete foundations, which meet rules designed to handle seismic movement. To counter the terrorist threat, there are significant physical security measures in place.

“This was a valuable visit, enabling us to see the engineering in place at Dungeness, the considerable safety systems and to hear for ourselves about the risks of running a nuclear plant.”

Ministers have said the life extension at Dungeness will bridge the power generation gap until after 2023, when the new EDF station will come on stream at Hinkley Point, Somerset.