Karlsruhe. Since this morning (23 December 2010) Block I of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant (GKN I) has been back on the grid after its revision. During the past several weeks, testing and maintenance work was carried out at the plant, technical projects were implemented, and the reactor was fitted with new fuel elements. During the audit, GKN’s specialized staff was supported by approximately 700 employees from manufacturing and specialist companies. As a whole, the team completed more than 2,000 individual tasks.
“Block I is starting its next phase of operation at a very high safety level, even by international standards,” says Jörg Michels, the Technical Director of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant. “Naturally, the plant fulfills all of the applicable German safety requirements, and it also achieves the safety level required by IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, for new nuclear power plants. We were able to reach this high standard because we have been making consistent investments in the plant since its operational startup. We have invested approximately 900 million Euros to date, more than double the original construction costs. Our nuclear power plants are and will remain an important element of the stable provision of power in Baden-Württemberg, and they offer just the flexibility we need to further develop renewable energies in the power grid,” Jörg Michels continues.
“On behalf of the entire revision team, we are happy that the work was able to be completed before Christmas, and that our colleagues can now enjoy the holidays with their families,” reports Helmut Scherla, head of the plant’s Block I. “The revision plan included servicing work on pumps and fittings for one of the four cooling lines. We subjected various pumps in the emergency power plant to general overhauls on a rotating basis, and we carried out maintenance work and upgrades in the emergency power supply. Larger projects included further optimizing the pipe brackets and testing large components in the power house, for instance at the turbine control valves and on one of the two water separators.”
The revision work took place under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Transport, Baden-Württemberg, and it was overseen by TÜV and KeTAG (Kerntechnik-Gutachterarbeitsgemeinschaft Baden-Württemberg) experts on behalf of the Ministry. Once the work had been accepted, the Ministry gave its approval for the plant to start up operations again. During the revision, two reportable events in the lowest reporting category were reported to the oversight agency. These events had no effect on the safety of the plant, its personnel or the environment.
Block I of the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant is a pressurized-water reactor with an electrical capacity of 840 megawatts. The plant started operations in 1976, and it produced more than four-and-a-half billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2009. Block I is operated by EnBW Kernkraft GmbH (EnKK). EnKK operates the nuclear power plants in Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg as well as the nuclear power plant currently being decommissioned in Obrigheim. It is estimated that the Neckarwestheim and Philippsburg sites produce approximately half of the power needed in Baden-Württemberg.