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EDF Energy permanently closes Dungeness B nuclear plant in southern England

EDF Energy, the owner and operator of the UK's operational nuclear fleet, said June 7 that it was, with immediate effect, closing and moving to defueling the two advanced gas-cooled reactors at the 1,250-MW Dungeness B nuclear plant in Kent in southern England.

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The company said in a statement that both units of the plant had since September 2018 been in an "extended outage" in which EDF Energy had been "managing a range of unique, significant and ongoing technical challenges not found" at the other six AGR power stations in the UK.

Although many "have been overcome, new detailed analysis has further highlighted additional station-specific risks within some key components, including parts within the fuel assemblies," EDF Energy added.

Although EDF Energy noted that the plant, which started operations in 1983, "operated 10 years longer than its original design life," the closure still represents a further setback for the company's plans to continue operating its existing fleet of AGRs until at least the late 2020s.

EDF Energy has already announced plans to close its 990-MW Hunterston B plant in western Scotland and its 940-MW Hinkley Point B plant in western England more than one year early due to graphite cracking issues.

EDF Energy had repeatedly said publicly that it intended to operate Dungeness B until at least 2028 and potentially longer.

The company said in the statement that when construction began at Dungeness B in 1967, the plant was "to be the first of a new wave of UK nuclear power stations and has a design not copied anywhere else in the UK fleet."

John Benn, the station director, said in the statement that "EDF has had to make a hard decision – but it is the right one. It gives our teams, our community and our business a clear understanding of the future."