Developments at AGRs

Unit 2 at the Heysham-1 facility in northwest England has been shut down following indications of high vibrations in the rotor of the steam turbine. The 575 MW reactor remains off line while engineers investigate and follows several months of boiler inspections last year that kept the plant off line until late December. An update on the unit will be made at the company’s Q3 results on 14 February.

British Energy has also confirmed that corrosion and cracks have been found in AGR units at Torness station in East Lothian and Hunterston B on the Ayrshire coast, both in Scotland. While the phenomenon is already known, BE has been forced to increase safety inspections to ensure the plants meet Nuclear Installations Inspectorate safety standards that will allow continued operations for as long as possible. Cracking has been found on the reactors’ graphite moderator bricks, an issue that affects plant efficiency, and the facilities will most likely need longer maintenance outages as a result. However, BE has acknowledged that it is possible the plants may be decommissioned ahead of the planned dates of 2011 and 2023 for Hunterston B and Torness respectively.

Separately, British Energy restarted a 555 MW unit at its Dungeness B plant in southern England after a five-day maintenance outage related to the feed water systems.