The final shipment of used fuel from the UK's Sizewell A nuclear power plant has been sent for reprocessing at Sellafield, marking the end of a five-year operation to remove all fuel from the site.
Magnox Ltd, which manages the Sizewell A site on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, began defueling the site in August 2009. Since then, more than 52,000 fuel elements have been transported in 50-tonnes shielded flasks from the site to Sellafield.
The transfer of the last container of fuel from Sizewell A came seven weeks ahead of the target set by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Some 99% of the radioactivity has now been removed from the site, Magnox said. It noted that following verification work over the next few months, the Sizewell A site will be declared completely free of nuclear fuel for the first time in almost 50 years.
Magnox said, "Attention now turns to the next stage of decommissioning where waste will be recovered and treated, while redundant machinery will be removed and non-essential buildings will be demolished." The Sizewell A site is scheduled to enter a 60-year period of passive care and maintenance in 2027, with final site clearance expected to be completed by 2097.
The Sizewell A plant houses two 210 MWe Magnox gas-cooled reactors. Construction of the plant started in 1961, with Sizewell A1 starting commercial operation in March 1966 and A2 starting six months later. Both units shut down at the end of 2006 having generated a combined 105 TWh of electricity over their lifetimes.
While one unit at the Wylfa Magnox site remains in operation, defueling continues at the Oldbury and Calder Hall sites. All fuel has already been removed from the other eight Magnox sites.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News