First Hunterston reactor shuttered

December 3, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
The Hunterston B nuclear power station in 2018. (Photo: Thomas Nugent/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Unit B1 at Scotland’s two-unit Hunterston B nuclear power plant was taken off line for good on November 26 after nearly 46 years of operation. A 490-MWe advanced gas-cooled reactor, the unit entered commercial operation in June 1976. Its companion AGR, Unit B2, which entered operation in March 1977, is scheduled for retirement in January.

Under an agreement with the U.K. government signed on June 23, EDF Energy, owner and operator of Britain’s power reactor fleet, is responsible for defueling all seven of its AGR nuclear stations over this decade. (The agreement does not include Sizewell B, which houses a 1,098-MWe pressurized water reactor slated to continue operating until at least 2035, or Hinkley Point C, which is currently under construction.) EDF expects the defueling of the AGR stations to take from three-and-a-half to five years.

Following Hunterston into the defueling phase by July 2022 will be Hinkley Point B, according to EDF.

A salute: “Since the reactor returned to service in September 2020 from its extended outage, it has had one of its best operating runs, experiencing no unplanned outages,” said station director Paul Forrest, in a letter to the Hunterston Site Stakeholder Group posted on the EDF Energy website. “The exceptional performance of the unit to the end of its generating life is testament to the hard work and dedication of the people who work at the site.

“The people here at Hunterston B are massively proud of the work they do. Every one of them has played a part in the success of the station, and while we will pause to reflect on this milestone, we are looking forward to the future. We are focusing our efforts on the final six weeks of generation from Reactor 4 [Unit B2] and ensuring the site is ready to start defueling after that.”

In case you missed it: EDF announced on June 8 its decision to close the Dungeness B plant—which had been in an extended outage since September 2018—rather than proceed with a restart later in the year. The company had previously stated its intention to operate the facility, located in southeastern England, until at least 2028.

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