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Worry over Sizewell after leaked report

15:36 15 May 2003

BRITISH Energy is embarrassed by the leak of a confidential document in which one of its own senior officials criticises the company's safety and operational performance.

BRITISH Energy is embarrassed by the leak of a confidential document in which one of its own senior officials criticises the company's safety and operational performance.

John Moares , former station director at Sizewell B and now British Energy's director of generation support, has been making presentations to the company's health and safety committees as well as to employees and union representatives.

A copy of his presentation, marked "confidential" was leaked to a national newspaper.

The presentation criticises British Energy for having ineffective systems for checking the state of equipment in its nuclear power stations, claiming this resulted in an inadequate knowledge of safety risks to guide plant maintenance programmes.

It also criticises the company's operational record, pointing to "loss of reliability and functionality" of plant which is way above the international average.

Mr Moares was seconded to the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) at the time the organisation was carrying out an assessment of British Energy's activities, at the request of the company.

On his return to the company he investigated the progress being made on implementing WANO's recommendations.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said the criticism of British Energy was very alarming.

"The UK nuclear safety watchdog continues to maintain that safety levels at Sizewell B and elsewhere are adequate but this leaked document shows to the contrary," he said.

Mr Barnett said Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer had agreed to investigate.

John McNamara, British Energy spokesman at Sizewell B, said WANO had been invited by the company to carry out an independent review.

"We were the first organisation outside North America to undergo a review of this type and it displayed our commitment to continuous improvement in best practice," he said.

"Five areas were identified for improvement in WANO's interim report. Much of the necessary work is already under way and good progress is being made," he added.

Mr McNamara said other industries did not open their doors to independent assessment.

N What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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