Decommissioning work plans at the UK's shuttered Bradwell nuclear power plant have been adjusted so as not to disturb a clutch of peregrine falcon chicks. The nestlings recently hatched on top of one of the two reactor buildings.
|The chicks sit in their nest on top of Bradwell unit 2, more than 50 metres above the ground (Image: Magnox Ltd)
A pair of peregrine falcons was seen to begin nesting on the roof of the reactor building of unit 2 in mid-April. As a protected species, site operator Magnox Ltd had to take special care not to disturb them. At that time, site director Mike Gull said, "We called in an independent expert as soon as the discovery was made and we've quickly put protection measures in place, ensuring we don't work too close or make noise that will disturb them."
The arrival of the nesting falcons came as workers prepared to begin covering the plant's two reactor buildings with cladding in preparation for the site's care and maintenance phase. A crane, more than 55 metres high, had already been built alongside unit 1, while a second was under construction next to unit 2. Gull noted, "We had planned to work on both reactors concurrently, but it is right to pause work on reactor two while the falcons are nesting. Instead we will change our plans and put all our efforts into progressing work on the neighbouring reactor, in order to reduce the overall schedule and cost impact on the decommissioning program."
An unknown number of chicks have now hatched. The site receives regular visits from environmental specialists to monitor their progress. The two- to three-week old birds are expected to leave the nest towards the beginning of July. However, they are likely to remain close to the nest and remain dependent on their parents for about another two months.
The Bradwell site hosts two 125 MWe Magnox gas-cooled reactors, which operated between 1962 and 2002. The turbine building was demolished in August 2011, leaving just the reactor buildings, each including a boiler house and a circulator hall. By 2015 these are to be sealed in the weather envelope to minimise maintenance effort until work resumes in earnest to finally clear the site - perhaps as late as the 2070s.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News