Nuclear reactors to be switched back on after safety scare at power stations

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Four nuclear power reactors that were shut down after a defect was discovered in one of them are set to begin switching back on at the end of next month.

Operator EDF Energy said a “phased return to service” was expected to take place between the end of October and the end of December.

Power supplied by the reactors at Heysham 1 and Hartlepool, which were shut down last month, accounts for roughly 10 per cent of the UK’s nuclear capacity, enough to supply three million homes.

Earlier this week, National Grid said uncertainty over electricity supply this winter meant it would take the “sensible precaution” of paying mothballed generators to be online over the period.

EDF said last month that it was shutting down the reactors at Heysham 1, in Morecambe, Lancashire, after a crack was discovered on a boiler spine – a metal tube that supports the weight of the boiler tubes around the reactor.

Hartlepool power station was also shut down because both stations shared the same design.

Engineers must now complete inspections to ensure there are no further defects which could develop into cracks.

National Grid’s announcement on Tuesday on measures to keep the lights on came after a fire at Ferrybridge power station in West Yorkshire and an announcement that Barking power station was closing, as well as the EDF nuclear shutdowns.

The Grid had set out plans in June to cope with the “energy crunch” when the gap between total power capacity and expected peak demand could shrink to just two per cent though had not initially planned to run the scheme this winter.