Defuelling completed at Oldbury

05 October 2015

The final used fuel element has been removed from unit 2 of the Oldbury nuclear power plant in the UK, the last of more than 52,000 fuel elements from the two Magnox reactors there.

Oldbury nuclear power plant (Magnox)
The two-unit Oldbury plant (Image: Magnox Ltd)

Defuelling began at Oldbury in Gloucestershire in early 2013, and is a key part of the decommissioning process. Fuel is removed from the reactors and then stored in on-site ponds before being transported in flasks to the Sellafield site for reprocessing. There were a total of 52,060 used nuclear fuel elements - each measuring 1.1 meters in length - at the two-unit plant when it ceased operating.

The removal of all 25,826 fuel elements from the reactor of unit 1 at Oldbury was completed on 11 August. The unit ceased operation in February 2012, after more than 44 years of commercial operation, with unit 2 closing in June 2011.

The final fuel element was removed from unit 2 just before midnight on 4 October, Magnox Limited said today. The removal of all fuel from the two units - owned by the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority - has been achieved three months ahead of schedule.

Oldbury's defuelling manager, Keri James, said: "The work doesn't end here though; we still need to ship the fuel to Sellafield, which will take us several more months. Once the fuel has been sent off site, we will have removed about 99% of the site's radioactive inventory."

The final shipment of fuel from the two 217 MWe units at Oldbury to Sellafield is due to take place early next year.

Wylfa unit 1 is the UK's only remaining operating Magnox reactor. It is scheduled to close by the end of this year and will begin its own program of defuelling in 2016.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News