SWEDEN At the end of April Vattenfall announced its intention to shut down Ringhals 1 and 2 earlier than planned. Preparations to enable the reactors to be shut down between 2018 and 2020 are now under way. 

I mmediately after Vattenfall announced its intention to shut down reactors 1 and 2 earlier than anticipated, Ringhals initiated a project which will pave the way for decommissioning of the reactors. The project, which is known as STURE (Safe and Secure Phaseout of Reactors 1 and 2), is led by Lars Björnkvist.

"It's not just a matter of shutting the reactors down. Doing it in the best and most efficient way requires a great deal of planning and documentation," he says.

STURE will be an umbrella project which will coordinate all aspects of the preparations for shutdown. There are four main areas: staffing and culture, plant, financial optimisation and permits.

"The first thing we have to consider is staffing. We must make sure we have the skills to operate the plants until the day they are shut down. In principle this will require individual staff development plans. Anyone affected by the decision must have a suitable development plan. We have to keep track of the skills that will be required in the blocks concerned, but also of how we stand generally at Ringhals in terms of the skills that are needed and the number of people retiring etc.

Two reactors will be decommissioned, while two others will remain in operation. One important area is safety culture, which must be maintained in all phases of operation," Björnkvist explains.

Safety culture must be maintained in all phases 

Permits required
He also says that work on permit issues must begin straight away.

"Amongst other things, before the reactors can be shut down, an environmental impact assessment must be carried out, with all the documentation that entails. Planning permission will also be needed for various temporary buildings," he says.
Vattenfall is responsible for decommissioning.

Ringhals is responsible for operation of the reactors until they enter shutdown mode. All preparations will take place within STURE.

"Only then will Vattenfall's decommissioning organisation take over. But clearly we'll work together and synchronise any action we take, and we'll collaborate over resources, in particular," says Björnkvist.

Cost effective
STURE will also investigate the most cost-effective way of shutting down the reactors. This may involve, for example, how Ringhals can make the best use of fuel that has already been purchased. 

"We'll consider all aspects, including the investments required and fuel management, in order to establish when and in what order the reactors should be decommissioned. Doing things in the most efficient way can save a fair amount of money," says Björnkvist, who explains that there is no fixed timetable for the work at the moment.

"But, according to the decision announced by Vattenfall, both reactors should be in shutdown mode by the year 2020. After that, all the fuel will be removed, which will take about a year, after which the reactors will be in service mode. For cost reasons, this period should be as short as possible," says Björnkvist.


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