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Nuclear bosses calm on cracks.

Nuclear bosses on Teesside moved quickly today to quell any fears over cracks in the reactor core at Hartlepool Power Station.

A national newspaper reported that six UK nuclear power stations, including Hartlepool, were found to have suffered core damage.

The safety assessments, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, show the Nuclear Safety Directorate (NSD) has issued warnings over the state of the reactor cores. But British Energy, which owns the Teesside site where about 500 staff are employed, insisted there is no risk to residents or workers.

A spokesman said: "All British Energy nuclear power stations operate under safety cases agreed and signed off by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII). Without NII safety case approval, our stations would not operate.

"Hartlepool has one reactor on line, with approval from the regulator, and one on a statutory three-yearly outage during which safety and maintenance checks are carried out."

He said a small number of tiny cracks found were on graphite bricks surrounding the reactor core.

The damage is part of expected wear and tear.

He added: "The bottom line is that our reactors would not be on line if the regulator did not give us approval."

The NSD says it does not believe there is any immediate risk but believes it poses questions over the future of other nuclear plants.

The safety documents, which were obtained by Greenpeace via Stop Hinkley, a local nuclear watchdog group, indicate the NSD requires more stringent inspections of the plants, which would require the closure of reactors for weeks.
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jul 5, 2006
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