British Energy denies Torness outage was unplanned

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

British Energy planned to take its Torness reactor in Scotland offline over the weekend and was not forced to do so, chief executive Bill Coley told an investor day presentation at Heysham, Lancashire Tuesday.

"The report in The Times newspaper this morning said BE was forced to shut Torness. This is not the case," Coley said. "There has been a minor leak in the hydrogen system in the generator, and we elected to take it off line now--it's a good time for it."

Coley confirmed that boiler inspections at Hunterston B were now completed, and the reactor was expected to return to service "later this month." The company is looking at options to increase load at the reactor above 70%.

Guidance on return to service at Hartlepool and Heysham 1, meanwhile, remains the same, with a phased ramp up scheduled "during quarter two and quarter three," Coley said. Some 32 Boiler Closure Unit radiographs have been completed, he said. Visual inspection of wire bundles at the reactors was now in progress. "The results so far confirm the integrity of the wire bundles and
absence of corrosion," Coley said.

The chief executive said the major outages at Hartlepool and Heysham caused by boiler closures masked the steady progress made by BE to reduce the level of minor losses. "A steady reduction in small losses has meant these are now at their lowest level ever, stabilizing the fleet," Coley said. "In the last three years we have spent over £1 [$1.97] billion in our plant and people. We have extended the lives of Hinkley Point and Hunterston to 2016, and will review a further extension before the end of 2013. We have completed Boiler Closure Unit inspections and regulatory approval has just been received for our plan. Nuclear reportable events are at their lowest level, and the level of unplanned trips have been maintained at last year's level."

The company confirmed that negotiations were ongoing with various parties with regard to a possible participation or takeover. No further details were given.

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