Britain's Office For Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said that French producer EDF Energy Nuclear Generation would keep the Hunterston B Unit 3 reactor off line while studying the long-term safety implications brought on by the presence of new keyway root cracks in the reactor core.
EDF has recently found these root cracks that go beyond what was expected through design modeling. ONR said that the cracks were more numerous than expected, but did not that the depth of extent of the cracks were more pronounced than expected.
Hunterston B Unit 3, at the facility in North Ayrshire, is already offline. It is expected to return to service before the ends of the year, ONR said, but it would, for now, “remain offline while the company works with the regulator to ensure that the longer term safety case reflects the findings of the recent inspections and includes the results obtained from other analysis and modeling.” None of the other reactors at the Hunterston B facility are affected by the same issue.
The ONR said it had been working diligently to “fully understand for these late life changes to the reactor core.” Regular inspections are carried out for older and have yielded “a clear understanding of how the reactor cores age.”
Regarding reactor core keyway cracks, more than $132 million has been spent on graphite research, taking advantage of expertise in the nuclear power community and from British academic institutions.
Hunterston B has two Advances Gas-cooled reactor, called Reactor 3 and Reactor 4. The original facility, now referred to as Huntington A, includes Reactor 1 and 2, both of which are being decommissioned. Reactor B has been operational since 1976. Construction on the Hunterston B facility began in 1968.
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