By DARA BUTTERFIELD
High levels of seaweed-ingress have forced operators to shut down a nuclear reactor at Hunterston B power station.
The reactor uses seawater as a coolant and high levels of seaweed can pose a risk to the safe operation of the power station. Consequently, Reactor-3 was shut down as a “precautionary measure” along with reducing the power output of Reactor 4.
Colin Weir, station director, said: “This was a precautionary measure when it was clear that the seaweed levels weren’t reducing.
“We are currently monitoring the weather and the seaweed levels and when we confirm we are in a stable state we will increase power on reactor 4 to nominal full load and also return reactor 3 to service.
“Our operational staff are well trained to respond in this situation and to take the plant offline if necessary. In addition, the many-layered safety systems monitor conditions like this and the plant’s inbuilt mechanisms will take the unit offline automatically, should levels rise beyond prescribed settings, ensuring optimum safety at all times.
“Cooling to the reactor was maintained at all times and there are no health, safety or environmental impacts.”
Hunterston B has two advanced gas-cooled reactors and provides enough electricity for 1.7 million homes.
Hunterston began operations in 1976 and has had it’s lifetime extended to 2023 – well beyond the original planned closure date.