Vattenfall says German reactor to reopen soon

Monday, June 1, 2009

STOCKHOLM/LONDON (Reuters) - Sweden's Vattenfall is ready to reopen one of its two north German nuclear plants shortly and the second will reopen later this year at the earliest as the operator completes safety-related measures, Chief Executive Lars Josefsson said on Monday.

"Kruemmel is almost ready to go live but of course requires approval while the time schedule for Brunsbuettel is not as firm," he said at the Reuters Energy Summit by video link from Stockholm.

"No firm statement can be made about Brunsbuettel but we are still looking at the balance of this year (for the restart)," he said.

Both plants were grounded by safety-related incidents two summers ago and have since been overhauled and received new equipment amid extensive safety tests and checks.

Vattenfall executives have recently cited an application date for mid-June for Kruemmel and none for Brunsbuettel, which Josefsson upheld on Monday.

Kruemmel's likely restart could be mid-July, if the nuclear authorities are satisfied with the measures taken.

The two plants have a joint capacity of 2,208 megawatts and their standstill has cost Vattenfall dearly -- an estimated 600,000 to 700,000 euros ($853,900-996,200) a day in lost earnings from power sales.

A fire in June 2007 caused a short circuit at Brunsbuettel and then at adjacent Kruemmel.

Supervisors spotted more unrelated problems, including tens of thousands of anchor bolts which they said would not withstand earthquakes or gas explosions, and small rifts in valves.

"These are very tedious routine operations...the fire had nothing to do with it," Josefsson said.

"The lesson is to keep 100 percent fit in the plant and to be up-to-date with documentation and verification."

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