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Hunterston B Power Station

Volume 616: debated on Tuesday 8 November 2016

1. If he will discuss with the operators of the Hunterston B power station the reported fractures in the keyways of that power station. (907113)

The safety of operating nuclear reactors in the UK is regulated by the independent Office for Nuclear Regulation, which is satisfied that Hunterston B is safe to operate. The issues referred to by the hon. Gentleman are addressed transparently in the ONR’s most recent annual report to Parliament. The ONR will continue to oversee these issues closely and will permit a nuclear plant to operate only if it is satisfied that it is safe.

My thanks to the Minister for that. Nuclear safety is important. The blueprint for Hinkley Point C is the Flamanville European pressurised reactor in Normandy, yet in 2015 it was discovered that Flamanville’s steel reactor vessel was faulty and at risk of splitting. The French company Areva is to be a major supplier to Hinkley Point C, yet in May the independent French nuclear safety authority discovered that more than 400 of Areva’s reactor components were dodgy and Areva admitted that it may have falsified hundreds and hundreds of its safety assessments. What assurances can the Minister give the House that Hinkley Point C, if built, will be safe?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising that point. As he may know, the issue of the anomalies and inconsistencies associated with the Areva components has been the subject of an independent review by the ONR. The ONR has made it perfectly clear that learning from the EPR under construction in Flamanville must be taken into account in the manufacture of components to be used at Hinkley Point C.