Some time back, I wrote to my M.P. on the subject of Nuclear Power safety and the Regulatory Structure within the United Kingdom for the checks and safety precautions at present ruling the operation of our power stations.
I was sent the usual anodyne reply from both my M.P. and the Minister concerned, to the effect that whilst the regulators oversee the whole industry, the actual checks on safety procedures were to a great extent within the purview of the Stations and Companies themselves. Now I presume most readers know of the basic structures of ‘Quality Assurance’ techniques which rely on a possibly large number of check sheets which have to be completed at the time of any assessment, check or trial; visual checks I must stress, without opening any item up or actual operation activity, somewhat similar to those for any other major industry.
My concern is that, in order to ensure that safety interlocks work, or safety procedures actually mesh together, the steam generation must of necessity be stopped in mid-flow, the reactor must SCRAM, the cooling system must go onto emergency operation, along with a host of other activities which are in place to protect the workers, the plant, but most importantly the population around the station. To the best of my knowledge, whilst lots of individual checks, and checklists have been completed; a total Emergency Closure has not been accomplished at any of our Nuclear Plants for over ten years.
To that extent, we are in the same state as the Chinese, who are also still looking for their ball!