The two reactors at Hunterston B nuclear power plant near Ardrossan are 43 years old – the oldest in Europe.
They’re already well beyond their operating lifetimes, which have twice been extended by EDF Energy, and they’re scheduled to close down for good in 2023.
However, there’s a serious safety fault in the reactors. The fault is known as keyway root-cracking: where the graphite moderator cores in the reactors develop cracks leading to instabilities that could lead to a major nuclear accident: which would lead to a large swathe of Scotland’s central belt having to be evacuated.
“In the very worst case the hot graphite core could become exposed to air and ignite leading to radioactive contamination of…the metropolitan areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
The reactors have been closed since October 2018 as a result, but owners EDF Energy are currently making a case for turning them back on, with help from trade union GMB.