HARTLEPOOL’S nuclear power station could be out of action up until the end of the year.
It comes after a crack was found in the boiler spine of Reactor 1 at its sister station, the Heysham 1 site in Lancashire.
Hartlepool’s Reactors 1 and 2 have been shut down since August 11, after owners EDF Energy took the decision as a precautionary measure as both stations share the same design.
Bosses said although routine inspections had not previously indicated any similar defects, the firm were carrying out further inspections to satisfy itself and the regulator that the reactors could be safely returned to service.
Today an EDF spokesman said: “Engineers have recently been able to begin their inspections and the first two inspections have been completed.
“The engineers found no defects on these spines.”
The firm expects a phased return to service between late October and late December.
The firm’s official added that to bring the reactors back into service, the programme must complete the inspection to verify there are no further defects which could develop into cracks, understand in detail the cause of the crack in the boiler at Heysham 1 and develop detailed designs and techniques for modifications to mitigate the impact of any defects.
Then EDF must implement modifications if necessary and over the coming weeks the programme team will focus on completing the inspections and work to build a robust case for the safe continuing operation of the boilers, with the “safety case” subject to approval from independent nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regeneration.
The spokesman added: “Now that the programme has been developed in detail and is underway, EDF Energy can give information on the estimated dates for returning the four reactors to service. “Depending on the progress of the programme and any necessary modifications, the company expects there to be a phased return to service between the end of October and the end of December, 2014.
“Dates for returning the stations to service depend on the findings and completion of the inspections.”
EDF Group has already identified actions to mitigate the financial impact of the lower nuclear output.