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Two cooling towers at Germany's Philippsburg nuclear power plant have been demolished.

The 150-metre-high cooling towers dominated landscape around the Philippsburg plant, which ceased generating electricity in 2019.

Plant operator, EnBW, did not announce the exact time ahead of the blast to avoid publicity and to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus among onlookers.

The power plant area around Rheinschanzinsel, about 1.5 kilometres from the outskirts of Philippsburg, was cordoned off on the day of the demolition. Both towers had previously been stripped of their interior equipment in preparation for their destruction.

The rubble from the towers, which weighs about 65,000 tons, will be used to level the terrain at the power plant site. Transformer stations will be built at Philippsburg for a transmission line intended to link to renewable sources in the north of Germany with the industrial south of the country.

Since March, EnBW had explained the process of the explosion several times in conference calls. The explosives were introduced into the approximately 1100 boreholes per cooling tower before the blasting and the vertically and horizontally milled "drop slots" enabled the towers to collapse within a few seconds.

Construction of Philippsburg 1, an 890MWe boiling water reactor, started in 1970, and the reactor went online nine years later. Philippsburg 2, a 1400 MWe pressurised water reactor, was put into operation in 1984.

Philippsburg 1 was closed immediately after the Fukushima accident while unit 2 was allowed to continue operating until the end of 2019. In total, the two reactors generated more than 570 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and together supplied more than four million households. Dismantling of the plant will take about 15 years, according to EnBW.

Photo: Demolition of the cooling towers at Philippsburg was completed on 14 May (Credit: EnBW)

Date: Tuesday, 19 May 2020
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