Two more years for Wylfa

14 October 2010

Wylfa, one of the UK's oldest nuclear power plants, has been given regulatory approval to continue operating for up to a further two years. The two-unit Magnox plant had originally been scheduled to shut in March 2010, but was earlier granted a nine-month extension. 


Wylfa (NDA)
Wylfa (Image: NDA)
Plant owner the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) announced that the extension of operation while Magnox North Sites – which operates the Wylfa site on behalf of the NDA – said that it has been "undertaking work to support the period of extended generation over the last year, including an evaluation of the periodic safety review." The safety review is required every ten years by the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) Nuclear Directorate, which regulates safety and security in the UK nuclear industry. The Environment Agency, which regulates other aspects of the site's work, has also been involved in this program of work.


The NDA noted that "extended generation will be subject to the site continuing to meet rigorous operational and safety standards." According to the NDA, the additional revenue from the power plant will be over £100 million ($160 million), which will be used to help fund its primary objective of decommissioning.


Sara Johnston, the NDA's program director for Magnox, commented: "Wylfa's continued generation is excellent news as it will deliver significant extra revenue from one of the NDA's valuable assets." She added, "The income generated over the extension period will support our clean-up mission."


The NDA said that Wylfa has generated some 682 TWh of electricity in its operational life to date. Its two 490 MWe gas-cooled, graphite-moderated first generation nuclear power reactors were the last Magnoxes to be built, entering service in 1971 and 1972 respectively.


The Oldbury plant in Gloucestershire is the UK's only other operating Magnox plant. Its two 217 MWe reactors had originally been due to close at the end of 2008, but the NDA requested permission from the regulator to operate beyond that date, earning revenue to help pay for decommissioning. It is currently scheduled to shut down in June 2011. However, Magnox North – a subsidiary of US-based international nuclear services company Energy Solutions - is looking at the feasibility of continuing the plant's operation into 2012.


The company previously said that there would not be enough fuel to continue running both reactors beyond mid-2011 - Magnox fuel is no longer being manufactured - but spare fuel from one reactor could be put into the other to keep it operating.


Both Oldbury and Wylfa have been earmarked as potential sites for new nuclear power stations by RWE-EOn joint venture Horizon, on land which it purchased from the NDA in 2009. Horizon anticipates having its first new plant, at Wylfa, in operation by 2020.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News