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A series of safety problems bring EDF’s decision on early shut down of Scotland’s Hunterston nuclear station

Scottish nuclear power station to shut down early after reactor problems
EDF Energy to close Hunterston next year after spending £200m on repairs, 
Guardian,  Severin Carrell and Jillian Ambrose, Fri 28 Aug 2020 Hunterston nuclear power station, one of the UK’s oldest remaining nuclear plants, is to close down next year, earlier than expected, after encountering a series of safety-critical problems in its reactors.

Industry sources told the Guardian that EDF Energy, the state-owned French operator of Hunterston, decided at a board meeting on Thursday afternoon that the plant would stop generating electricity in late 2021, at least two years earlier than planned.

The energy company had hoped to keep generating electricity from the 44-year-old nuclear plant on the Firth of Clyde until 2023, after ploughing more than £200m into repairing the reactor.

Hunterston, which first began generating electricity in 1976, has been offline since 2018 after inspectors discovered 350 microscopic cracks in the reactor’s graphite core.

In October last year the Ferret, an investigative website, reported that at least 58 fragments and pieces of debris had fallen off the graphite blocks as the cracks worsened. It quoted the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) as saying this had created “significant uncertainty” about the risks of debris blocking channels for cooling the reactor and causing fuel cladding to melt.

After a two-year investigation, the ONR said on Thursday that reactor 3 at Hunterston would be allowed to restart as planned, but it would only be allowed to generate electricity for approximately six months.

EDF then plans to apply next spring to extend its life for one final six-month run. EDF said it would begin the process of decommissioning Hunterston no later than the first week of 2022…….

Richard Dixon, the director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “In terms of energy security, clearly there’s no problem. Its reactors haven’t been running and the lights haven’t gone out. What’s more urgent now is to build up renewables and energy efficiency, to make sure the gap left by Hunterston is filled by zero-carbon electricity or energy saving.” ……… https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/aug/27/hunterston-scottish-nuclear-power-station-to-shut-down-early-after-reactor-problems

August 29, 2020 - Posted by | safety, UK

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