First flask of radioactive waste leaves N-plant

AN anti-nuclear campaigner has welcomed the first dispatch of hazardous radioactive fuel away from Sizewell A.

Rebecca Lefort

AN anti-nuclear campaigner has welcomed the first dispatch of hazardous radioactive fuel away from Sizewell A.

Yesterday, the first spent fuel flask was taken from Sizewell A nuclear site to Sellafield in Cumbria.

The flask is the first of around 310 that will be delivered north as part of the decommissioning of the Sizewell A site.


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Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, said: “We welcome the removal of the radioactive spent fuel from the two nuclear reactors at Sizewell A.

“Eventually, when all the spent fuel is removed, which will take about three years, it will make the site safer.

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“It is helpful for us in East Anglia but not good news for the people at Sellafield and we are concerned about that because when it gets there it has to be reprocessed and that involves the discharge of radioactivity into the Irish Sea.”

The flask dispatch programme will continue until all the fuel, which is currently stored in Sizewell's twin reactors, has been shipped to Sellafield.

The fuel is transported in a flask which is heavily shielded and purpose-built. Constructed from forged steel more than 30cm thick, each flask weighs more than 50 tonnes and holds no more than 2.5 tonnes of fuel

Paul Wilkinson, Sizewell A site director, said: “We are very pleased to have started defuelling. Our fuel accounts for around 99% of the total radioactivity at Sizewell A so this is a big step towards removing the site's most significant hazard.”

Defuelling was expected to start in December 2006 when the site, owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, stopped generating. However there were fewer flasks available than needed, which has slowed the process down.

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