Germany's PreussenElektra has received approval from the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection for the dismantling of the Isar 2 nuclear power plant.

Isar 1 and 2 (Image: Regine Rabanus / PreussenElektra)

The Isar 2 plant - comprising a single 1400 MWe pressurised water reactor - was one of Germany's last three nuclear power plants to be shut down on 15 April last year. PreussenElektra - which is responsible for the decommissioning of eight nuclear power plants in Germany - had already submitted the application to decommission and dismantle the plant in July 2019.

Since the shutdown of Isar 2, all 193 fuel elements have been removed from the reactor pressure vessel and placed in the plant's fuel storage pool. In addition, the primary cooling circuit was decontaminated at the beginning of this year. The first dismantling work will be the dismantling of the main coolant pumps. In addition, the main coolant lines will be separated from the reactor pressure vessel in order to begin the first major dismantling project, the dismantling of the reactor pressure vessel internals.

On 21 March, the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection granted the necessary approval for dismantling of the plant to begin in accordance with Germany's Atomic Energy Act.

Isar 2 was the last of the PreussenElektra plants to cease operations. The Brokdorf and Grohnde plants were shut down on 31 December 2021. With the already decommissioned Isar 1, Stade, Unterweser and Würgassen plants, all of PreussenElektra's nuclear facilities are now in various phases of decommissioning and dismantling.

"Seven of our eight power plant blocks are now being dismantled," said PreussenElektra CEO Guido Knott. "With the knowledge from these dismantling projects and our fleet-optimised approach, we will ensure that the dismantling at the Essenbach site will be completed by the end of the 2030s and that the power plant site will be available for new uses."

Dismantling of Isar 1 is progressing according to plan, the company noted. Every year around 2500 tonnes of material is dismantled and disposed of there. The dismantling of the plant's systems is about half complete.

Before it was shut down, Isar 2 plant covered about 18% of Bavaria's electricity production, the ministry noted. With a net output of more than 1400 MWe, it was the most powerful nuclear power plant in Germany and one of only two plants in the world that produced more than 400 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity. In addition to Isar 2, there are four other nuclear power plants currently being dismantled across Bavaria: Isar 1, Grafenrheinfeld and Gundremmingen Blocks B and C.

In August 2011, the 13th amendment of the Nuclear Power Act came into effect, which underlined the political will to phase out nuclear power in Germany.

"The shutdown of the last nuclear power plants in April 2023 was wrong," Bavaria's Environment Minister Thorsten Glauber said whilst announcing the granting of the dismantling permit for Isar 2. "We have always advocated allowing the nuclear power plants to temporarily continue to operate as a climate-friendly bridge.

"Given the current global challenges, we need every kilowatt hour of energy that we can generate ourselves. With Isar 2 it would still be possible to produce affordable and CO2-free electricity in Bavaria. It is incomprehensible why the federal government does not want to accept this and instead relies primarily on more coal. With Isar 2, the federal government has one of the world's safest and most reliable nuclear power plants without the need to dismantle a plant in its prime after only 35 years of operation. That's like retiring a perfectly healthy 50-year-old. It is dishonest to import nuclear power from abroad and at the same time shut down the nuclear power plants in Germany, as the federal government is doing."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Tuesday, 26 March 2024
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