Decommissioning milestone at German reactor

28 July 2016

Dismantling of the reactor pressure vessel of the Obrigheim nuclear power plant in Germany has been completed, plant owner EnBW announced yesterday. The plant shut down in 2005 after 36 years of operation and has been in the process of demolition since 2008.

Obrigheim RPV lid section - 460 (EnBW)
A disassembled section of the lid for Obrigheim's reactor vessel (EnBW)

Work to dismantle and package the cover of the reactor pressure vessel and the reactor internals has been underway within the reactor building of the Obrigheim plant since 2013. In August of that year, a crane was used to transport the vessel itself - weighing 135 tonnes - from the reactor building into the plant's former fuel storage pool. This had earlier been converted into a water-filled dismantling area.

Since then, a team of about eight people per shift has used remote technology to segment the vessel. The disassembly of the vessel's domed bottom marked the completion of the task. This dome - 1.5-metre high and weighing about 13 tonnes - was divided into 12 individual segments. The resulting sections of the vessel have been packaged in storage containers and sealed ahead of disposal.

Preparations are underway for the next stage of decommissioning which will see the containment structure of the Obrigheim plant dismantled. This work is expected to begin later this year.

Dismantling of the nuclear-licensed facilities at the Obrigheim plant is expected to be completed around 2025. The remaining buildings will then either be re-used or demolished.

"The heart of the Obrigheim nuclear power plant is dismantled and cut up into individual parts," said Jörg Michels, head of EnBW Kernkraft GmbH. "Our work in Obrigheim is on schedule and will be implemented very professionally. At Obrigheim, we have gained extensive experience which will feed into the forthcoming decommissioning of our nuclear power plants in Philippsburg and Neckarwestheim."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News