Low water levels may further restrict output at France's Chooz nuclear plant

PARIS, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Low water levels on the Meuse River may further restrict output from Sunday at EDF’s Chooz nuclear plant in northern France, which already has some capacity offline for maintenance, French grid operator RTE said on Tuesday.

The two Chooz reactors produce 1.45 gigawatts (GW) of power each. The plant’s entire output could be affected by the curbs, RTE said.

The Chooz 1 reactor is already offline for planned work and is scheduled to restart on Aug. 19, while maintenance is scheduled for the Chooz 2 reactor from Aug. 20 to Sept. 1.

The low water may prolong scheduled maintenance outages at the Chooz plant.

EDF’s use of water is regulated by law to protect plant and animal life. It is obliged to reduce output during hot weather when water temperatures rise, or when river levels and the flow rate are low.

Last month was the driest July in at least 60 years and the first half of August was the second hottest on record, making it the fifteenth consecutive month with higher than average temperatures, Meteo France’s data showed.

RTE published a similar warning for the Chooz reactors last Monday ahead of a heatwave that saw temperatures peak around 40 degrees Celsius in parts of the country.

French nuclear availability is currently at 59.8% of total capacity, with 37.3 GW offline. (Reporting by Forrest Crellin; Editing by Jan Harvey)