Six safety incidents have been reported at Hunterston including concerns about the nuclear plant’s cooling systems, fuelling machine and cracks in the reactors’ graphite core.

The UK government’s safety watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said that Hunterston had “failed to adequately account for” radioactive materials last October. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) also disclosed that unauthorised radioactive “debris” was found in a supposedly empty fuel flask that had been returned to Hunterston from the Sellafield site.

A spokesperson for Hunterston owners EDF Energy said: “It is important to be clear that there was, at no time, a risk to workers or the public in connection to these incidents.

“We work to strict operating rules and our safety-related site equipment has strength in depth. Our stringent safety levels were maintained at all times, but our open reporting culture ensures we now can identify areas where improvements can, and will, be made.

“The material which arrived at Hunterston B in the bottom of a fuel flask from Sellafield remained safely in the flask while on site and did not cause any environmental harm. EDF promptly reported the material to SEPA.

“The arrival of the material means there has been a non-compliance with the site’s environmental permit and EDF is working with the regulator and Sellafield to establish how this situation can be managed in the future.”

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) are calling for North Ayrshire Council to take more stringent measures regarding the plant and for EDF to close down old reactors.

NFLA Scotland Convenor, Councillor Feargal Dalton said: “These incidents confirm in our view that these aging reactors would be better being closed and the workers transferred into the long-term process of decommissioning Hunterston B.”

EDF have also clarified the impact Covid-19 will have on operations, changing shift patterns and postponing non-essential maintenance to prepare for the pressure of increasing absences.

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