No chance of Chernobyl

An interesting perspective on the accident at Chernobyl appeared in the Daily Telegraph recently:

Sir - Mikhail Gorbachev urges us to think not twice, but seven times, before restarting a nuclear programme in Britain because Chernobyl has convinced him of the dangers of nuclear power.

The reactor used at Chernobyl is the RBK design, graphite-moderated but water-cooled. It is a design unique to the Soviet Union, which built four of them.

It is a tragedy that the Soviet hierarchy at the time, of which Mr Gorbachev was part, did not heed the written warnings given by British engineers that this particular reactor type had major potential stability problems and should not be permitted to go operational.

The disaster that was Chernobyl should not distract us from the fact that many hundreds of pressurised water reactors and boiling water reactors are operating safely. The British PWR design adopted for Sizewell B is perhaps the most reliable and safest reactor operating in the world today. It is the same reactor type used in the successful French programme. The whole power plant design exists at the detailed level with the construction logistics already solved.

We should replicate this design on existing nuclear sites without further delay, to reduce our dependence on conventional fossil fuels, to avoid predicted energy shortages and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Bruce Tait, Hythe, Kent

....reproduced by permisiion of Bruce Tait - many thanks.

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