Map of Muelheim-Kaerlich
PWR 1300 MW constructed by ABBR
Facilities in Muelheim-Kaerlich
|plant||reactor typ||construction start||operation start||shut down|
In 2004 one event rated INES 0 occured according to the BfS annual report.
In 2003 two events rated INES 0 occured according to the BfS annual report.
Last week, officials at RWE Energie AG, the utility which built the PWR and is leasing it from a Luxembourg holding company, announced that workers at the plant had begun dismantling and packing up turbine-side and uncontaminated secondary-side components and parts. That effort is expected to save money while RWE waits for the Supreme Court to decide whether the reactor may operate based on the 1990 license.
Reducing Personnel and crating up parts may cut the costs of mothballing the plant by more than 30%.
RWE packed up the parts once before, from 1989 until 1993. Officials said that, under conditions of so-called "wet maintenance," during which circuits are filled with coolant, it would take about three months to prepare Muelheim-Kaerlich for restart, compared to about six months under the"dry maintenance" program now underway again.
Meanwhile, the utility has made progress pursuing its civil claim that Rheinland-Pfalz is responsible for the procedural errors which were faulted by the court that annulled the original license in 1988. Courts have ruled thus far that the damage caused by the errors should be shared equally by the state and the utility, but judges have yet to rule on the damage amount.
On November 21, OVG pulled the first partial permit for the 1,308-MW PWR, arguing that the permit, re-issued by Rheinland-Pfalz in 1990 after the Supreme Administrative Court in Berlin annulled the plant's first license in 1988, was based on"methodologically faulty assumptions" and that additional studies on earthquake safety should have been carried out before the license was issued.
In 1993, the Superior Court in Berlin had ordered OVG to finally rule on the license by considering two key issues of contention: volcanism and seismology.
Following that order, OVG last year couldn't find any German seismologists who were sufficiently qualified to act as an independent consultant to the court, since all the (German) experts over time had been involved in the Muelheim case, as consultants for licensing authorities, RWE, or intervenors. In the end, judges had a choice: a Swiss expert or a German-speaking seismologist from New Zealand.
The court hired Meier Roser, from the Technical University of Zurich, as its seismological consultant. Since Roser had been involved in appraising seismic safety for Swiss regulatory authorities during licensing procedures for Swiss reactors.
In Germany, he said, the deterministic evaluation is called for under technical rules. German regulators found that the biggest historical event recorded over the last 1.000 years within a 200-kilometer radius of the Muelheim-Kaerlich reactor was a lesser event, and the design basis for the PWR was oriented on that quake.
Nonetheless, Roser pled for the probabilistic methodology, and the court was convinced that more analysis should have been performed, before the Muelheim-Kaerlich license was awarded. They therefore nullified the license.
RWE will appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court later in 1996.
On November 21, the Superior Administrative Court of Koblenz ruled that, because regulators and industry incorrectly assessed earthquake danger at the PWR´s site, its first partial nuclear license (TEG-1) awarded by the state of Rhineland-Pfalz in 1990, was null and void.
After documentation for the original TEG-1 was prepared in the early 1970s, the utility and state found that the reactor's planned location was on an earthquake fault. RWE and the state then agreed to slightly shift the building location without documenting the alterations in the licensing process.
Twenty years after construction got underway on the basis of the original TEG-1, and 10 years after a permit was given for trial operation, the 1,308-MW unit has operated for only 11 months and has been cold since 1988.
If Muelheim-Kaerlich does go back on line then - 25 years after construction began - it might not operate for long. The license at issue in the current legal battle allows operation only for a few hundred full-power days. RWE must still obtain a license for commercial operation from Rhineland-Pfalz.
The 1300 MW Babcock - Brown Boveri PWR ( the only NPP in Germany not built by Siemens) has been off-line since 1988, because of a 7 year legal battle over licensing and restart.
The Koblenz Superior Administrative Court convened Nov. 6 to resolve the issue of earthquake safety at the beleaguered Muehlheim-Kärlich PWR, which has not operated since 1988.
Industry officials said a verdict might be handed down by the end of next week on the seismic issue, the most significant matter standing in the way of the unit's restart. The 1,308-MW plant is the only Babcock & Wilcox PWR outside the U.S.
Muehlheim-Kärlich, owned by a Luxembourg-based holding company and leased to RWE Energie AG, was taken off line in 1988 after less than a year's operation. At that time, the Supreme Administrative Court in Berlin nullified ist trial operating license on procedural grounds, finding the plant had been sited on an earthquake fault.
The legal war against the reactor is led by five local residents and five municipal districts near Koblenz.
Since the court last convened over Muehlheim-Kärlich, in mid-1994, experts have been called on to report anew on earthquakes. Attorneys for intervenors claimed in media interviews this week that the new studies show that an earthquake that rocked the upper Rhine region in 1992, which registered about 5.8 on the Richter scale, would have severely damaged the reactor if ist epicenter of the 1992 quake was near Venlo, in the Netherlands, about 125 kilometers away.
According to RWE experts, during the 1992 event, equipment at Muehlheim-Kärlich registered an acceleration of 44 cm/sec^2, far below the design basis. The plant is designed to withstand acceleration of up to 200 cm/sec^2.
Plant was granted an operating license good for 10 years - not the "unlimited license BWK had sought. Regulators affirmed the plants safe and allowed a 10% uprate.