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Mussels Force EON to Close German Wilhelmshaven Hard Coal Plant

Mussels in the North Sea forced EON SE, Germany’s biggest utility, to shut its Wilhelmshaven hard coal plant for at least one week.

EON shut its second biggest hard coal plant yesterday after the mollusks clogged the inflow of cooling water into the facility, the company said today. The 757-megawatt station, which generates enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes, won’t restart until at least Aug. 29.

“We usually scrape tons of mussels out of the area where the cooling water flows during the plant’s usual revisions, but this time there were so many that we couldn’t wait for the next inspection,” Markus Nitschke, a spokesman for EON, said by phone from Dusseldorf today. “The warmer temperatures have caused this infestation.”

Warmer-than-usual weather in northern Germany and sand deposits in the Wilhelmshaven bay area spurred the mussel boom, Nitschke said. EON had to shut its 1,400 megawatt Oskarshamn-3 nuclear reactor in Sweden last year for two days after a jellyfish swarm clogged the cooling water system.

EON originally planned to start maintenance at Wilhelmshaven Aug. 30 until Sept. 22, according to the company’s website.

“I don’t expect that the plant will go online again before the official revision starts,” Nitschke said.

Temperatures in the city of Cuxhaven, near Wilhelmshaven, have been about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above norm since June, data from state forecaster Deutscher Wetterdienst showed.

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