Sizewell A decommissioning to cost £1.5b

THE cost of returning Sizewell A nuclear power station to a greenfield site is expected to cost around £1.5billion pounds over the next century.The current timeline for the costly clean-up of the site is 100 years, a meeting of the Sizewell A and B power stations Local Community Liaison Council was told at their six-monthly meeting yesterday .

THE cost of returning Sizewell A nuclear power station to a greenfield site is expected to cost around £1.5billion pounds over the next century.

The current timeline for the costly clean-up of the site is 100 years, a meeting of the Sizewell A and B power stations Local Community Liaison Council was told at their six-monthly meeting yesterday .

By the time Sizewell A finishes generating, it will have produced enough electricity to supply the whole of the UK's domestic needs for just over half a year .

By 2004, it had produced one hundred thousand million units of electricity.


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The process of decommissioning of the plant is set to start in 2006, when it will be 40 years old.

During the first 12 years, defuelling will take place. During the following 80 years, care and maintenance will be carried out, and the final site clearance is planned to take place over eight years following that.

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“This is not a five-minute job, decommissioning a nuclear site,” station manager Mike Wilding told the meeting.

He described how the plant would be progressively dismantled over a period of time.

Ownership of the site is set to be transferred to a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority formed by the Government through the Department for Trade and Industry.

During the first stage, all the nuclear fuel from the reactors will be removed from the site in a process which is expected to take up to three years. It will be taken to Sellafield in Cumbria for reprocessing and when all the fuel has been removed, so will 99% of all radioactivity, according to the British Nuclear Group, which owns the station.

While defuelling, the station will be getting ready for its care and maintenance phase, and various non-radioactive parts of the plant will be dismantled or demolished.

Quantities of non-radioactive steel and other materials will be removed and some will be recycled for other uses, while others will be used as landfill.

Parts of the plant containing minor amounts of radioactivity are set to be dismantled and any low-level radioactive material sent to Drigg in Cumbria.

The reactor building will be prepared for a period of “passive storage”, and kept weather-tight and secure.

Radioactive waste that has accumulated during the plant's operational lifetime will be recovered and packaged. Since at present there is no permanent disposal site in the UK for intermediate-level wastes, the aim is to store it on site until the repository is available.

At the end of the passive storage stage, everything still left on site, including the reactor vessels, will be dismantled.

By this time the reduction in radiation levels will allow ready access to nearly all locations inside the reactors.

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