Seaweed overload shuts down Scottish nuclear power plant

Hunterston B nuclear power station
Hunterston B nuclear power station

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.

Pixie Energy

Pixie logo Pixie Energy is an incubator and a facilitator of strategic research and project work, focusing on energy regulation, policy and markets at the local and national level. Find out more about Pixie Energy here.

Local Energy Matters: Scotland

Local Energy Matters: Scotland is a free-to-download brochure with a focus on energy tariffs in the two Scottish electricity distribution regions, as well news on local energy and low-carbon schemes.

Previous editions can be download here.

Scottish energy market overview

You can read an overview of the Scottish energy market here.

Scottish Government energy feed