REPORTS IN THE UK THAT EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point B station would close ‘early’, in 2022, sounded a strange note for nuclear industry veterans. They knew that the venerable advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) on the west coast, on its startup in 1979, was originally expected to have a lifetime of around 25 years. But in fact, it has been in operation for 40 years and could have more than one more year remaining, if owner EDF Energy takes it to its final end date in mid 2022. But those newspapers had noted that EDF had hoped to delay final shutdown until 2023. For longstanding opponents of the plant, however, closure comes not a moment too soon — and they believe equally that operation should end at the UK’s remaining AGRs. At issue is the interlocking graphite blocks that in the AGR design form the reactor core. Opponents argue that years of irradiation have caused so much damage to the blocks that the plants should be out of operation. This is indeed one of the ageing issues that affects AGRs, but the situation, and the decision on whether to close the plant, is more complicated.
Nuclear Engineering International 3rd March 2021 read more »