Karlsruhe. After the completion of annual maintenance, Block I of the Neckarwestheim Nuclear Power Plant (GKN I) has been online again since the weekend. In addition to the general testing and maintenance activities, the annual replacement of fuel elements was carried out in the last few weeks.
“We were able to successfully implement our maintenance programme,” reports Helmut Scherla, Unit I director. “The extensive testing activities on the heating tubes in two of the three steam generators, on the reactor containment shell and on the core barrel were carried out to our complete satisfaction. The new digital protective system for the rotary current generator and the associated transformer were able to be commissioned as planned.” A total of just under 6,000 individual activities were completed. “We are very pleased with the work of the maintenance team of the GKN and the more than 1,200 employees of manufacturers and specialist companies,” praises Helmut Scherla.
As the Regulatory Authority and the public already know, during the maintenance and routine checks minor leaks were found and repaired on one auxiliary und one holding wire. This did not have any effects on the safety of the plant, the staff or the surrounding areas.
The maintenance work was monitored by the Technical Inspection Authority (TÜV), which acts as an assessor for the Baden-Württemberg Environment Ministry, the KeTAG (Baden-Württemberg Nuclear Power Assessment Consortium) and the MPA (State Material Testing Institute, Stuttgart). After the work had been approved, the Baden-Württemberg Environment Ministry issued its consent for the plant to be restarted.
The day on which the plant was restarted was almost exactly the same day on which the pressurized water reactor was put online on 30 May last year. On 3 June 1976, the electricity generated in Unit I was fed into the public grid for the first time. “Since that time, electricity has been produced in Neckarwestheim in a safe, reliable and environmentally-friendly way – a total of approx. 178 billion kilowatt hours until today. That corresponds to the power requirements of all private households in Baden-Württemberg for about ten years,” is how Wolfgang Heni, Commercial Director of the GKN, sums it up.
“At the same time – in comparison to a coal-fired power plant – we have prevented 175 million tons of CO2 from being released and each year we prevent about another 6 million tons of CO2 from being released into the environment,” adds Wolfgang Heni. With the maintenance in mind he says: “With an average availability of well over 90 percent, Unit I makes a significant contribution to providing a secure power supply in Baden-Württemberg and Germany. To make sure that it stays that way, we once again spent tens of millionson this year’s maintenance to ensure that the electricity production of Unit I remains safe.”