Vattenfall AB (Vattenfall) is all set to reopen one of its two north German nuclear plants shortly and the second will reopen later in 2009 at the earliest as the operator completes safety-related measures. Both the plants were grounded by safety-related incidents two summers ago and since have been overhauled and received new equipment amid extensive safety tests and checks. The two plants have a combined capacity of 2,208 megawatts.

Lars Josefsson, chief executive of Vattenfall, said Kruemmel is almost ready to go live but of course requires approval while the time schedule for Brunsbuettel is not as firm.

No firm statement can be made about Brunsbuettel but we are still looking at the balance of this year (for the restart), Josefsson said.

Executives of Vattenfall have recently cited an application date for mid-June 2009 for Kruemmel nuclear power plant and none for Brunsbuettel nuclear power plant.

If the nuclear authorities are satisfied with the measures taken then Kruemmel nuclear plant would restart in mid-July 2009.

The two plants standstill has cost Vattenfall nearly an estimated EUR600,000 to EUR700,000 a day in lost earnings from power sales.

A fire in June 2007 caused a short circuit at Brunsbuettel plant and then at adjacent Kruemmel supervisors spotted additional unrelated problems, including tens of thousands of anchor bolts which they said would not withstand earthquakes or gas explosions, and small rifts in valves.

These are very tedious routine operations…the fire had nothing to do with it, Josefsson said.

The lesson is to keep 100 percent fit in the plant and to be up-to-date with documentation and verification.