UK reactors sealed in decommissioning 'first'

16 December 2010

Two Magnox reactors at the former Berkeley nuclear power plant have become the first to be sealed up in a milestone for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The reactor buildings are to be placed in a passive state, known as Safestore, and will be monitored and maintained until the site is completely cleared in about 65 years' time. Berkeley was the first solely commercial nuclear power plant to be built in the UK and the first to undergo extensive decommissioning. It closed in 1989 after 27 years of operation and was defuelled over the next three years, removing 99% of the site's radioactivity. NDA head of programme Sara Johnston said, "Reaching Safestore at Berkeley will also provide valuable knowledge and expertise that will assist with taking the remaining Magnox reactors into Care and Maintenance," she added. Final dismantlement is scheduled to begin in 2074, by which time the residual radioactivity will have decreased significantly.