CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-EDF gets OK to restart Scottish reactors where core cracks found

(Corrects to show initially taken offline in 2018 (not offline since 2018))

LONDON, April 13 (Reuters) - EDF Energy on Tuesday won approval to restart two nuclear reactors in Scotland for a final production run before beginning decommissioning by January 2022.

The reactors were initially taken offline in 2018 after cracks were found in the graphite bricks in the cores of both reactors at Hunterston B on Scotland’s west coast which opened in 1976.

Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) then granted permission for limited runs in 2019 and 2020.

The ONR on Tuesday said fuel handling risks due to the graphite core cracking remained “acceptable”.

It said evidence provided by EDF and assessed by its own inspectors showed the reactors were safe to operate for a limited period and could be safely shutdown if required.

Hunterston B director Paul Forrest welcomed the ONR’s decision and said the reactors can safely shutdown in the most extreme conditions “including in the event of an earthquake larger than ever experienced in the UK”.

EDF last year announced plans to begin decommissioning Hunterston B by January 2022 at the latest.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Kirsten Donovan and Jason Neely