Press Release: September 19 2011

New nuclear risks at Dungeness spelled out in LAAG’s closing statement

In its Closing Statement, delivered at the end of the six month public inquiry into the large scale development of Lydd Airport, LAAG outlined the evidence supporting its case for apposing Lydd Airport’s proposed development and appealed to the Secretary of State to reject the planning application since it has the potential to destroy wealth, to destroy the environment and to destroy the lives of many people. The Closing Statement also revealed that new evidence had strengthened its case for objecting on nuclear safety grounds.

The Office for Nuclear Regulation* (ONR) made its original decision NOT to oppose Lydd Airport’s development in 2007, based only on a safety assessment of Dungeness B, the operational nuclear power station at Dungeness. No safety assessment was made of Dungeness A because it had ceased power generation at the end of 2006.

The ONR recently reversed its opinion according to evidence revealed late in the inquiry. This shows that it now regards Dungeness A to be more dangerous than the operational Dungeness B. Despite this, no safety assessment has been conducted for Dungeness A. Moreover, the ONR failed to inform the inquiry of this change in opinion. It was revealed as an inconsequential point in the evidence of one witness

Evidence also showed that the ONR failed to reveal the longevity of the radiological hazards at Dungeness, or to account for them in its safety assessment process. For as long as Dungeness A and Dungeness B remain on site, even when shut down and with all of the spent fuel removed off-site, they will continue to present a radiological risk throughout the extended 100 year or so decommissioning phase. This is because of the amount of radioactive and other hazardous substances on site, plus the vulnerability of certain irradiated and contaminated parts of the plant to aircraft impact.

These factors invalidate the ONR’s decision not to oppose Lydd Airport’s development.

Nuclear safety is now being driven by Europe. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster all Europe’s nuclear reactors are being assessed to determine their vulnerability to natural and made hazards such as aircraft accidents. This will include Dungeness A and Dungeness B. Fortunately the results will be peer reviewed. LAAG intends to make representations to the European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group to ensure the Lydd Airport hazard is fully understood.

LAAG believes the Secretary of State cannot determine Lydd Airport’s planning application until the completion of the safety assessment process which is scheduled to be June 2012.


Peter Morris/ Lydd Airport Action Group/ 07766 680 990/  

*Formerly the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII)

Notes to editors: