One of the two nuclear power reactors at Torness in East Lothian has been shut down today because of seaweed blocking its cooling system. In a letter to members of the site’s local liaison council, the station’s director, Paul Winkle, said that reactor number one was turned off this morning. The reactor is meant to provide 600 megawatts of electricity for over one million homes. The reactor was automatically tripped “due to an increase in seaweed levels as a result of the weather conditions in the area,” he wrote. “We are currently monitoring the weather and the seaweed levels and will confirm once we have returned the unit to service.” Though the closure will mean loss of power on the grid, and loss of earnings for the station’s French operators, EDF Energy, Winkle insisted it did not impact safety. “Cooling to the reactor was maintained at all times and there were no health or environmental impacts,” he said. The second reactor at Torness is also running at low power – 272 megawatts – because of “low-load refuelling”, according to EDF’s website. Torness reactors, sited on the coast, were previously closed by seaweed twice in 2013. They were forced to shut down in 2011 by a swarm of jellyfish. In June 2015, a reactor at EDF’s nuclear plant at Hunterston in North Ayrshire was also closed by seaweed.
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