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Dungeness B on Romney Marsh to go back online in January


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A nuclear power station is due to come back online in the new year - more than a year after it was shut down.

The two reactors at Romney Marsh's Dungeness B, run by EDF Energy, were taken off the grid in August and September 2018 for 'statutory outage'.

Dungeness B nuclear power station
Dungeness B nuclear power station

It was initially thought the work would take 12 weeks, but inspections revealed cracks and environmental corrosion on pipes.

And 15 months later both reactors are still off line.

But bosses now say that work is nearing completion and they hope to return to service in January 2020.

The news comes after a report from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) revealed a number of breaches at the plant.

They were identified during a routine visit at the station, carried out by ONR inspectors quarterly.

Acting station director John Benn
Acting station director John Benn

The breaches related to the Auxiliary Cooling Water (AWC) system and the Reactor Pressure Vessel safety relief valves.

But as the reactors were already offline, the risk was deemed minimal.

The report states: "During this reporting period the station identified that the ACW system was judged not to be seismically qualified due to deficiencies in the supporting arrangements of the pipework.

"In light of this finding, the station reported this to ONR and rated it as on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale at 1 (Anomaly).

"If the reactors were operating at the time of this discovery it would have led to both reactors being shut down.

"However, both reactors are currently shutdown and therefore the actual consequences were greatly reduced."

Both reactors at the power station were turned off last year
Both reactors at the power station were turned off last year

The document outlined a similar situation in terms of the safety relief valve breaches: "Both reactors were shut down at the time of these incidents and therefore did not pose any risk to the public."

John Benn, acting station director of Dungeness B power station, said both issues were reported to the ONR and said engineers at the plant are making 'good progress'.

He said: "We voluntarily report any issues to the ONR as it helps us to improve and we welcome all feedback from the regulator.

"Issues to do with the valves were identified during a period of maintenance and we worked with ONR to address them.

"Our ongoing works also identified an issue to do with cooling water systems, which we also voluntarily reported to the ONR.

"We continue to work with the ONR to address these issues.

“Engineers at the plant are making good progress on the inspection and maintenance of conventional steam line pipes that carry steam from the boilers to the turbine and are not within the nuclear reactor.

"Work is also continuing to complete repair work on corrosion identified during inspections on safety back-up systems.

"The station will continue to produce low-carbon electricity safely and reliably for many years to come - and with this in mind engineers are working through a very full and thorough service, which will stand us in good stead for the future.

"This work is now nearing completion and our latest forecasting gives us return to service dates of January 20, 2020 for Reactor 21 and January 31, 2020, for Reactor 22.”

Work to construct Dungeness B commenced in 1966, with it starting to generate power in 1983.

Its estimated decommissioning date is 2028.

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