Unit 3 at the Hunterston B nuclear power plant in North Ayrshire, Scotland, will remain offline following the discover of cracks in several graphite bricks in the reactor core during a routine inspection, EDF Energy, the plant's operator, said.
Cracks were found in three of appropriately 6,000 bricks in the core in November of 2015 and two in an October 2014 inspection of Hunterston B Unit 4. The “keyway root cracks” are expected, but “happening at a slightly higher rate than modeled,” EDF said in a statement.
In 2015, EDF said that “a very large number of bricks,” would have to develop cracks before there was any serious safety concern, in part because there are many redundant bricks in the system. About half of the bricks installed in the advanced gas-cooled reactor cores at Hunterston B are bricks containing fuel channels, according to Nuclear Engineering International.
EDF expects to shut down Unit 3 at Hunterston B in 2023 after a 47-year run. Operations began in 1976 with plans, at that time, to close the plant in 2011. EDF later said that the plant was technically fit – and economically viable – for operations to continue.
EDF assured the public there were no safety concerns respective to the discovered crack, but said the plant would remain closed until later this year.
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