UK nuclear plant 'free from faults' that halted Belgian reactors

LONDON Thu Feb 14, 2013 12:08pm EST

LONDON Feb 14 (Reuters) - The reactor at Britain's Sizewell B nuclear power plant in Suffolk, is free of the manufacturing faults that led to the shutdown of two similar reactors in Belgium last year, operator EDF Energy said on Thursday.

Two pressurised water reactors (PWRs) run by GDF-Suez unit Electrabel were shut down last summer after thousands of cracks were discovered in their core tanks that stem from the manufacturing process.

Following the discovery Britain's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) ordered EDF Energy to carry out similar tests on Sizewell B, the country's only PWR plant.

"The approved safety case presented by EDF Energy Nuclear Generation demonstrates that such flaws as found at Doel 3 and Tihange 2 are highly unlikely to be present in the Sizewell B reactor pressure vessel," EDF Energy said in its operator's report published on Thursday.

Britain's ONR said it was now reviewing the report, but added that inspections carried out at Sizewell B before and during the start of operations in 1995 would have detected the faults that halted the Belgian units.

Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors have not been shut permanently but Electrabel needs to prove to the national regulator that the units are safe to restart.