UK's Magnox sends last of Oldbury fuel for reprocessing

07 January 2016

Magnox today dispatched its final flask of fuel from Oldbury for reprocessing at Sellafield, completing the site's program of defuelling and removing 99% of radioactive material from there. Receiving and shipping fuel since it began operations in the 1960s, this final dispatch enables Oldbury to move into its decommissioning phase with the aim of reaching care and maintenance by 2027.

Oldbury used fuel goes to Sellafield - 460 (Magnox)
The final flask of used fuel leaves Oldbury (Image: Magnox)

Mike Heaton, Oldbury site director, praised his staff for reaching "this important milestone in record time".

Magnox, owned by Cavendish Fluor Partnership, is the management and operations contractor responsible for 12 nuclear sites and one hydroelectric plant in the UK. Under contract to the site owner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the company is responsible for electricity generation at Maentwrog, defuelling at Wylfa and Oldbury, and the decommissioning of Berkeley, Bradwell, Chapelcross, Dungeness A, Harwell, Hinkley Point A, Hunterston A, Sizewell A, Trawsfynydd and Winfrith.

Brian Burnett, head of programs at the NDA said the dispatch of the final fuel flask from Oldbury was a "significant hazard reduction milestone".

Oldbury will now go through a "workforce transition to enable it to refocus on decommissioning", Magnox said. "Near-term work priorities include a mix of conventional and radiological projects to further reduce hazards on site," it said.

At the start of defuelling Oldbury contained nearly 52,000 fuel elements, each measuring 43 inches in length which, if placed end to end, would stretch 17-and-a-half miles, Magnox said. Fuel flasks measure about two-and-a-half metres square and are made from steel that is over 14 inches thick, which acts as shielding from the fuel that they carry. Each flask carries around 200 fuel elements.

Out of a total 50,000 tonnes originally manufactured, supplied and used in 10 Magnox reactors, just over 1000 tonnes of used fuel remains to be shipped from the sole Magnox fuelled site at Wylfa, which ceased generation last month.

Oldbury operated between 1967 and 2012 and provided around 137.5 TWh of electricity to the UK - enough to power a million homes for over 20 years, Magnox said.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News