Seaweed forces shutdown of nuclear reactor

Torness nuclear power station had to shut down a reactor because of seaweed.
Torness nuclear power station had to shut down a reactor because of seaweed.
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A REACTOR at Torness nuclear power station was shut down because of a build-up of seaweed.

EDF Energy, which runs the plant, issued a statement saying it had taken one of its units off line on Thursday afternoon.

It said: “Reactor 1 was manually shutdown due to increased seaweed levels as a result of the weather conditions in the area.

“We are aware that at certain times of year with particular weather conditions in this part of the Forth Estuary, seaweed volumes can increase and enter the station’s cooling water intake system.

“Our operational staff are trained to respond in this situation, and to take the plant offline if necessary. In addition, the plant’s safety systems monitor conditions like this and will take the unit offline automatically, should levels rise beyond prescribed settings, ensuring safety at all times.

“Cooling to the reactor was maintained at all times and there were no health or environmental impacts.”

Similar shutdowns have happened before.

Edinburgh Green councillor Steve Burgess said: “I certainly hope there was no serious safety issue here. It sounds like there could have been a problem keeping the temperature in the reactor within safe limits because of seaweed being driven in by the recent strong easterly winds blocking the cooling-water intake.

“This isn’t the first time seaweed has caused a shut down at Torness. Whilst nuclear generation can be reliable during operation, when a reactor goes down, it goes down completely and no electricity can be generated.”