Power station decommissioning to start

By Ted JeoryTHE go-ahead has been given for work to start on decommissioning one of the region's nuclear power stations.Bradwell power station was formally shut down in March last year after operator British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) decided it was no longer financially viable.

By Ted Jeory

THE go-ahead has been given for work to start on decommissioning one of the region's nuclear power stations.

Bradwell power station was formally shut down in March last year after operator British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) decided it was no longer financially viable.

Since then, about 250 staff have been overseeing the defuelling stage, but the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate decided yesterday full decommissioning can now begin at the plant.

BNFL experts from Gloucestershire will now move in and issue contracts to start the deplanting and demolition work,

Decommissioning the station, which cost £50million and started generating in 1962, will ultimately mean the total clearance of the site.

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The early phase, which will involve alterations to the reactor buildings and huge turbine hall, will last several years.

A new storage facility will also be built to house Bradwell's packaged radioactive waste, such as fuel-can debris and resins, until a national repository becomes available.

Meanwhile, the two reactor buildings will be weatherproofed and made secure until the site is finally cleared in 100 years' time.

Defuelling of the two reactors is due to be completed by the end of 2005 and, once finished, BNFL said 99% of the radioactivity will have gone from the site.

Station manager Peter Wright added: “This is a major milestone for the station. An awful lot of planning has been going on, but it now means that we can physically begin to progress things.

“We gave an undertaking to keep the community informed of our proposals and we will continue to do that.”

John Whittingdale, the Maldon and Chelmsford East MP, said: “I'm delighted Bradwell has been given permission to go ahead with its decommissioning programme and I'm looking forward to seeing progress on the site as work gets under way.”

The decision to decommission follows two consultation periods with the public.

ted.jeory@eadt.co.uk

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