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British Energy completes nuclear programme

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Four nuclear reactors at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool nuclear power stations, which provide around 2,350 megawatts of electricity generation in the UK, have been returned to service following a 17-month outage.

Reactor 2 at Heysham 1 power station, the last of the four reactors to return to service, began supplying power to the grid today.

The four reactors were taken out of service in October 2007 after a planned inspection revealed some corrosion on wires which are part of the boiler closure units. Following a 17-month programme encompassing more than 3 million man hours of work the four reactors have been returned to service. The first three units are operating at full load and the fourth reactor is being increased to full load in a planned power increase.

Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF Energy, recently visited both sites to see the work and meet the employees.

He said: "This large, complicated modification project has been managed professionally and carried out skilfully and is an illustration of the expertise and commitment of the station staff and all of the British Energy team who supported their work. This project demonstrates the value and importance of the British Energy acquisition to EDF Group and also to the country. We will continue to invest in all the nuclear power plants to improve their performance and seek to extend their lives. The value to investors of having large scale, secure, low carbon electricity generation as part of their portfolio will continue to increase in coming years as climate change and security of supply issues become more pressing."

Whilst the reactors were out of service, British Energy took the opportunity to bring forward maintenance work, including the replacement of a generator stator and main generator transformer at Hartlepool and the replacement of some 3km of cast iron cooling water pipe work at both stations.

Gwen Parry-Jones, station director at Heysham 1, said: "Now the BCU programme is complete, reactor 2 is supplying power to the grid and will gradually be brought back to full power over the coming days. The start-up is not routine as the unit has been out of service for almost one and a half years and a robust recommissioning programme was developed to return the unit to full power and address any equipment issues that may arise in the process."

EDF Energy acquired British Energy in January 2009 and plans to build four new reactors with the first operational by the end of 2017, while investing in the existing fleet of eight nuclear power stations which provide the UK with about one sixth of its electricity.

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