EDF

Britain's nuclear regulator gives go-ahead for Hunterston B-7 reactor to restart

Britain's nuclear regulator has given the go-ahead for EDF Energy's Hunterston B-7 reactor to restart at the end of August after a prolonged outage.

By Nina Chestney

LONDON, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Britain's nuclear regulator has given the go-ahead for EDF Energy's EDF.PA Hunterston B-7 reactor to restart at the end of August after a prolonged outage.

The approval is for around six months of operation. The reactor is due to come back online on Aug. 30.

The Hunterston B-7 reactor, also called unit 3, has been offline since March 2018 due to cracks in the graphite bricks that form the reactor core. POWER/GB

Such cracks happen when reactors age. This becomes a problem if it impedes the insertion of control rods or obstructs fuel channels within the reactor core which would affect the ability to shut down the reactor or cool the fuel, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said.

Following inspections, the ONR said there were sufficient measures in place to ensure worker and public safety for this limited time of operation.

"We ... have scrutinised the nature of the cracking observed in reactor 3 and are satisfied that it will not prevent the reactor from operating safely or impede its ability to be shut down if required during this period," said the ONR'S deputy chief inspector Donald Urquhart.

After the existing operating period, the core will be inspected and any further period of operation would require EDF to provide a new safety case which would be assessed by ONR.

The Hunterston B nuclear plant is on the west coast of Scotland and started generating power in 1976. It is expected to be decommissioned in 2023. It is capable of supplying electricity to around 1.7 million UK homes.

(Reporting by Nina Chestney; Editing by Jan Harvey and Mark Potter)

((nina.chestney@thomsonreuters.com; +44 (0) 020 7513 5674; Reuters Messaging: nina.chestney.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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