Sizewell B nuclear power plant shut down for 3 months
Sizewell B will not produce electricity for three months to allow essential repairs – and EDF will have to submit a “robust safety case” to regulators before it is restarted.
The nuclear power plant – which provides electricity to 2.5 million homes and businesses – has already been offline for six weeks for regular maintenance and refueling and was hoped to be up and running again next week .
However, signs of wear have been found on a thermal sleeve – and necessary repairs will involve keeping the complex offline until August 30.
The problem was anticipated and EDF engineers worked with specialists to assess it.
An EDF Energy spokesperson said: “The Sizewell B was taken offline on April 16 for scheduled refueling and maintenance work. Our early return to service has been updated to August 30 following additional work required on a thermal jacket while other on-site work continues.
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“The thermal sleeves are components which are located above the reactor in the head of the pressure vessel and do not perform any significant function related to nuclear safety.
“In this case, we found a worn thermal sleeve and we are now inspecting all the other thermal sleeves, as was already planned.
“At no time were there any safety concerns for staff or members of the public.
“This problem is an issue our industry is aware of and has been thoroughly evaluated at Sizewell B and internationally. Specialist contractor teams are already in place to complete the inspection work. and repair while other breakdown work continues. “
A spokesperson for the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said: “We are aware of this problem. [relating to the thermal sleeve wear at Sizewell B] and had in-depth technical discussions with EDF as part of the development of plans to remedy this. The safety of workers and the public has not been compromised and a series of safety barriers remain in place.
“Sizewell B is the only pressurized water reactor in the UK. We have therefore integrated the knowledge and best practices of our international counterparts to inform our regulatory approach.
“We will only allow a nuclear reactor to operate if it is safe to do so. EDF must present a solid safety case which demonstrates to our satisfaction that this problem has been resolved and that the reactor can operate in complete safety. “
During maintenance and refueling, plant employees perform 8,000 routine maintenance and inspection tasks and replace one-third of the fuel.