Sigmar Gabriel,
Environment Minister
 
9 July 2009 – The Nordic region’s biggest utility, Vattenfall AB, said its Kruemmel reactor in Germany won’t start for several months and that the plant’s head resigned.

Vattenfall will replace two transformers at the nuclear facility. The 25-year-old Kruemmel reactor stopped on July 4 for the second time in a week following a short circuit in one of the transformers. In June, the plant returned from a two-year outage caused by a fault in the other transformer, which led to a fire.

E.ON AG, Germany’s largest utility, owns a 50 percent stake in Kruemmel. Vattenfall’s 771-megawatt Brunsbuettel reactor, also co-owned with E.ON, has been shut for two years following a short circuit in the power grid nearby. The outages, which prompted an initial “exodus” of clients, cut first-quarter earnings by 135 million euros ($188 million).

Germany’s nuclear law states that the country’s 17 working reactors should be shut down around 2021 depending on how much power they produce. Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the country should speed up the closure of aging nuclear reactors after Kruemmel shut down. The remaining operating life of older reactors could be transferred to newer plants in an amendment to legislation, Gabriel said.

Initial investigations at Kruemmel have shown that the incident occurred because an appliance used to measure partial discharges at the transformer hadn’t been installed before the plant restarted.

Since Kruemmel’s 2007 halt, Vattenfall has carried out work to avoid short circuits and eliminate any “serious impact” should such an event occur, the company said in a separate statement on July 5.