RWE awards German reactor dismantling contracts

13 December 2021

German utility RWE has awarded a contract to Westinghouse to dismantle two reactors at the Gundremmingen nuclear facility. It has also contracted a consortium comprising Framatome and Transnubel to dismantle the reactor of the Emsland plant.

The Gundremmingen plant in Bavaria (Image: RWE)

Westinghouse will dismantle and pack the reactor pressure vessels (RPVs), including the associated internals, the fuel element storage racks and adjacent concrete shielding structures in units B and C of the Gundremmingen plant.

The 1284 MWe Gundremmingen B boiling water reactor (BWR) in southern Germany was disconnected from the grid on 31 December 2017 after 33 years of operation. Decommissioning of the unit began the following year. Gundremmingen C - a 1288 MWe BWR - is scheduled to shut down at the end of this year.

"We appreciate the trust that RWE has placed in Westinghouse to deliver this critical phase of the Gundremmingen decommissioning project," said Sam Shakir, President of Environmental Services at Westinghouse. "Our decades of hands-on experience and depth of services enable us to reduce risk and deliver confidence when partnering with customers to retire plants and restore landscapes."

For the Emsland nuclear power plant, which will cease operating at the end of 2022, a consortium consisting of Framatome and Transnubel was awarded a contract to dismantle and pack the RPV internals and the RPV cover, as well as other parts of the primary circuit.

At both plants, the components will be dismantled on site using highly-specialised tools, mostly remotely and partly under water by experienced and specialised workers. The removed parts - which are classified as low and medium-level radioactive dismantling waste - will then be professionally packaged for later disposal and handed over to the federal government. The first on-site work is expected to begin in early-2024 and to be completed in Emsland in late-2025 and in Gundremmingen in 2030.

Before starting the dismantling activities, the necessary permits and approvals for dismantling the large components must be obtained from the responsible authorities. The preliminary planning work required for this will begin immediately, RWE said.

"With these contracts, we are consistently implementing our dismantling obligation," said Nikolaus Valerius, board member for nuclear energy at RWE Power and technical managing director of RWE Nuclear. "We want to be able to dismantle our plants safely, immediately and efficiently by the middle/end of the 2030s."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News