Karlsruhe. Since yesterday night Unit 1 of the Philippsburg nuclear power plant (KKP 1) has been back on the grid after its annual maintenance. Over the past few weeks, the annual fuel rod replacement was carried out in addition to the general testing and maintenance activities. During the maintenance work, more than 1,200 additional staff from manufacturing and specialist companies were brought in to assist the KKP maintenance team. The total workforce completed over 6,000 individual tasks.
It is now more than 30 years – 5 May 1979 to be precise – since electricity was first fed into the national grid from Unit 1. “Ever since we have been producing electricity in Philippsburg safely, reliably and in sympathy with the environment. To date Unit 1 has produced over 183 billion kilowatt hours of electricity – that would cover the demand of all private households in Baden-Württemberg for about 10 years,” reckons Christoph Heil, Technical Director of the Phillipsburg nuclear power plant. In 30 years, the operation of the boiling water reactor has spared the environment more than 177 million tons of damaging carbon dioxide emissions. That corresponds to all the CO2 discharged by the whole of German industry every year. Thanks to Unit 1, we prevent the production of around a further 6 million tons of CO2 every year.
Security at Unit 1 exceeds international standards for new plants
“We also want to continue this impressive performance in terms of security of supply and protecting the environment. Which is why we invested over ten million euros in the maintenance work that has just been completed at our plant, and why we make sure now and in the future that the plant continues to keep up with the latest developments in technology,” explains Christoph Heil. “This is how Unit 1 meets all the technical safety standards required by German law without exception and even exceeds the standards for new plants demanded by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In other words: even after 30 years of operation, from a safety point of view Unit 1 is just as good as a new nuclear power station. That is a major proof of the quality of our work at the plant.”
Successful investment in plant quality
Roman Zofka, Head of the Unit 1 facility, is very pleased with the results of the maintenance work: “We implemented our work programme successfully. The main areas were checking the seals on the containment dome, inspecting the motors of two forced circulation pumps, and testing the reactor pressure vessel and the two secondary cooling systems. We also carried out extensive tests and inspections on the pre-heaters and condensate coolers in the machine house. Maintenance work was carried out on a main condensation pump, a reactor feed pump and our machine transformer, and the pipework mounting was also improved. Construction and maintenance work was also carried out on one of the four water cooling channels.”
The maintenance work was carried out under the supervision of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of the Environment, and was monitored on behalf of the ministry by consultants from the Technical Inspection Authority (TÜV) and KeTAG (the Baden-Württemberg Nuclear Power Consultant Consortium). After approving the works, the Ministry of the Environment agreed to the plant being restarted. During the maintenance work two notifiable incidents in the lowest reporting category were detected and reported to the regulatory authority. The incidents had no effect on the safety of the plant, its staff or the environment.