For a term beyond the end of the year, the Isar 2 nuclear power plant in Bavaria would have to be shut down for about a week to repair a leak. “The energy company Preussen-Elektra informed the Federal Ministry for the Environment about an internal valve leak in the Isar 2 nuclear power plant during the technical talks about preparations for a standby reserve last week,” said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUV) on Monday in Berlin.
There is no impairment of security. However, the kiln must be repaired in order to be available for power operation beyond the end of the year. The ministry announced that, based on the new situation, it would examine whether Isar 2 could continue to be used as an emergency reserve for German energy production until mid-April. According to the operator, the repair is not necessary if the nuclear power plant should end power operation at the end of the year, as was the case with the decision to phase out nuclear power.
A spokesman for the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment classified the case as “safe from a safety point of view”. He is known to the country’s regulator. “It is not a reportable event.” Safety has top priority. “The Bavarian Ministry of the Environment therefore sticks to the position confirmed by a report by TÜV Süd: continued operation of the Isar 2 nuclear power plant would be possible from a safety point of view. Rapid amendment of the Atomic Energy Act by the federal government would be required to create the legal basis.”
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Since Russia has been delivering less gas to Germany as part of its war of aggression against Ukraine, there has been discussion about longer operation of the three remaining nuclear power plants. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) plans to keep two power plants operational until mid-April in the event of bottlenecks: Isar 2 and Neckarwestheim in Baden-Württemberg. After the nuclear phase-out decided under the former Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), all German nuclear power plants should actually go offline by the end of the year. Representatives of the FDP, CDU and the CSU, which governs Bavaria, advocate the continued operation of all three power plants.
According to Preussen-Elektra, the Isar 2 had to be shut down in October because the fuel elements in the reactor core had too little reactivity in November to restart the plant from the standstill, the Federal Ministry for the Environment announced. So far, the operator has always stated that the system will run at almost full capacity until the end of the year.
Isar 2 was built in 1988. Critics of the extension of the lifespan had repeatedly pointed to the risks due to the old age of the reactor. In the course of the nuclear phase-out, the safety checks that were actually required every ten years had failed.
“The new information contains some important new facts compared to those that the operator sent to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection in a letter dated August 25 and that were included in the evaluation of the stress test and its assessment,” emphasized the ministry spokesman . These would now have to be taken into account when planning the availability of the nuclear power plant for electricity production after December 31, 2022.
The BMUV, like the Ministry of Economic Affairs, is examining the new situation and its effects on the design and implementation of the standby reserve, said the spokesman. For the Ministry of the Environment, the priority is that the currently high safety standards of German nuclear power plants continue to be guaranteed.
“Particular attention is paid to checking the assessment of the nuclear supervisory authority of the state of Bavaria and the operator with regard to the leakage of the valve.” represent.
For Britta Haßelmann, co-chair of the Greens parliamentary group, there are now fundamental questions. “Unfortunately, we have to state that Eon’s information policy on Isar 2 is opaque,” she told the German Press Agency in Berlin. The fact that new information about a leak has now emerged makes them concerned, especially since Eon has been claiming for weeks that the nuclear power plant is ready at any time to continue running beyond December 31st. Eon is the parent company of Preussen-Elektra.
The parliamentary group leader of the Greens in the Bavarian state parliament, Ludwig Hartmann, described the communication of the operator Preussen-Elektra as irritating. The statement that the repairs would have to be carried out in October because in November the reactivity would no longer be sufficient to start up again is in contrast to earlier statements that the reactor would be running at full capacity until December 31st.
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