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Two UK nuclear power stations shut after boiler defect uncovered

11 August 2014

On August 11, electricity company EDF Energy said it had temporarily shut down two of its nuclear power stations, Heysham 1 and Hartlepool, following the discovery of a defect in one of the boilers at Heysham 1.

Heysham 1 & 2
Heysham 1 & 2

The problem was first detected during a routine inspection, which led to one of the station's two nuclear reactors being shut down, but now the utility says it is shutting both reactors at each of the two sites as a precautionary measure.

Most of the UK’s Advanced Gas Reactors were built in pairs to a similar design and Heysham 1 and Hartlepool are one such pair. EDF’s five other AGR stations are not affected as they use a different design. EDF also runs a Pressurised Water Reactor nuclear power station at Sizewell B in Suffolk, which is also not affected.

The problem was uncovered in the boiler spines in one reactor and inspections will take place to assess the extent of the problem. Each reactor at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool has eight boiler units which each contain one boiler spine.

"Until the results of the further inspections are known it is not possible to advise exact return to service dates for these four reactors, however, an initial estimate is that these investigations will take around eight weeks," EDF said.

The National Grid said the shut-downs would have no effect on the UK's supply of electricity, helped by low seasonal demand at this time of year. "We have many generation sources to call on and demand is low at this time of the year," a spokeswoman said.

Update: On August 13, the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said it is satisfied that EDF Energy is taking "appropriate and conservative action in the interests of continued nuclear safety" in its decision to shut down reactors at the Heysham 1 and Hartlepool sites.


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