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Scotland: Hunterston B nuclear reactors back on for temporary runs before 2022 retirement

Reuters photo courtesy Wikipedia

United Kingdom regulators have approved the restart of a Scottish nuclear power plant temporarily.

The Office of Nuclear Regulation approved the restart after a two-year inspection and investment program by Hunterston B owners EDF Energy and independent inspectors. The two reactors were shut down in 2018 for graphite inspections.

Despite the restarts, EDF plans to retire the 44-year-old Hunterston B by 2022.

 “I welcome the ONR’s decision to approve the restart of Hunterston B power station’s other reactor,” station director Paul Forrest said in a statement. “Having both reactors back online will mean that Hunterston B can continue the important job of making low carbon electricity and help reduce reliance on gas-powered generation until the site moves into defuelling by January 2022.”

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The company and plant operators have carried out a detailed inspection involving extensive safety testing, he added.

“ We have been able to demonstrate that even in the most extreme conditions our reactors will safely shutdown, including in the event of an earthquake larger than ever experienced in the UK.”

Hunterston B is one of seven advanced gas-cooled reactors in place around the coast of Britani. They provide about 15 percent of the overall power supply.

The Reactor 3 restart allows a return to service for about six months. Reactor 4, also shut down two years ago, was granted a restart in 2019.

EDF is building European pressurized water reactors (EPRs) at Hinkley Point C and developing plans for a replica plant at Sizewell C. It also has a minority stake in the Bradwell B project.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the POWERGEN+ virtual series. He can be reached 918-831=9177 and [email protected]).