Technical risks lead EDF to suddenly defuel Dungeness B nuclear power station in UK

Photo courtesy commons Wikimedia.

EDF has decided to move one of United Kingdom nuclear stations into the first phase of decommissioning immediately after discovering several risks to parts of the fuel assemblies and elsewhere.

The French-based company suddenly announced plans to defuel the Dungeness B nuclear power station in Kent. The 38-year-old reactor plant was originally put into an extended, but temporary outage while EDF worked on a range of technical challenges specific to the site.

Many of those issues were corrected, but new analysis indicate other problems significant enough that EDF opted not to restart the plant. EDF acquired the Dungeness B station in 2009 and managed it past the original intended design life.

Dungeness B came online in 1983, some 17 years after construction began. It produced carbon-free electricity for all of Kent and helped avoid some 50 million metric tons of emissions, according to EDF.

“This power station has been a cornerstone of life in Kent for decades. It is a very special place and the team has a real sense of family — we are part of the community,” John Benn, station director at Dungeness B, said. “EDF has had to make a hard decision — but it is the right one. It gives our teams, our community and our business a clear understanding of the future.

Defueling is the first stage of decommissioning a nuclear power station and a process which involves continued use of EDF’s teams and specialist supply chain companies, preserving a source of jobs in Kent and the surrounding area.

The nuclear power station is one of a fleet of seven advanced gas-cooled reactors operating in the nation. EDF acquired as part of the deal to buy British Energy in 2009.

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