The Biblis Nuclear Power Plant is in the South Hessian municipality of Biblis and consists of two units: unit A with a gross output of 1200 megawatts and unit B with a gross output of 1300 megawatts. Both units are pressurized water reactors. The operator of this power plant is the German RWE Power AG, an electrical utility based in Essen. unit A began operation on July 16, 1974 and entered commercial service on August 25, 1974. unit B reached criticality on March 25, 1976.
In March 2013, the administrative court for the German state of Hesse ruled that a three-month closure imposed by the government on the Biblis A and B reactors as an immediate response to the Fukushima accident was illegal. The state ministry of the environment acted illegally in March 2011, when an order was issued for the immediate closure of the Biblis units. RWE complied with the decree by shutting Biblis-A immediately, however as the plants were in compliance with the relevant safety requirements, the German government had no legal grounds for shutting them. The court ruled that the closure notice was illegal because RWE had not been given sufficient opportunity to respond to the order.
On December 17, 1987 an incident (INES 1) occurred: Coworkers overlooked a stop valve that had not been closed. In order to close the armature a valve was opened. Radioactive primary cooling agent discharged for a short time into the annular space. Because the discharge of the reactor cooling water took place outside of the reactor containment, there was no feedback from the sump over the safety feeding pumps and/or cooling pumps. The incident became public one year later, when an article in an American technical periodical (Nucleonic Weeks) was published. There have been other incidents afterwards, none of which has been rated over 1 on INES scale.
In the course of a routine swap of unit A's fuel assembly in September 2010 a malfunction of its emergency system was detected. The automated switchover of the power supply from unit B to A proved broken, which meant that the ability to perform countermeasures would have been severely impaired in case of an emergency. Previous demands by Germany's Green party and the IPPNW to construct an external control stand were refused by Hessen's environment minister Lucia Puttrich (CDU) on the ground that both units could provide each other with energy should an incident occur.
Biblis Nuclear Power Plant (Germany), block A (right) - block B (left)
Security measures on South site
Ref-flow from cooling towers into the Rhine river (unit A in the background)
Biblis Nuclear Power Plant is on the Rhine river. On the right side two cooling towers from unit A. In the background a ship landing place where heavy components such as reactor vessels and steam generators were landed by ship.