Nuclear, Reactors

British Energy heeds further delays to nuclear plants restart

13 February 2007 – UK nuclear power producer British Energy has announced that repairs at two of its nuclear reactors would not be completed until March.

Generation had been stopped at the number 3 and number 4 units at its Hunterston B and Hinckley Point B plants to allow for boiler repairs. The number 3 reactor had been expected to return to service, albeit not at full capacity, at the end of this month with the number 4 generator coming back onstream at the end of January.

The company now says that work has been completed at Hinckley Point B’s number 4 unit but not at the Hunterston B number 4 unit. Defects to a tail pipe were discovered on those units and now there is to be further inspection of the number 3 units. As a result of this, it will now be the end of March before the generators re-enter service at 70 per cent of capacity.

British Energy said it would try to bring planned maintenance at Hunterston B forward to coincide with the additional boiler checks. That would have a positive effect on 2007-2008 earnings, it said.

Work at another plant in Hartlepool has been completed and the units are being returned to service.

Last month British Energy’s chief nuclear officer stepped down with immediate effect. In October the company admitted only one of its fleet of eight nuclear plants was operating normally.