Sizewell: Defuelling reaches half way stage at nuclear site

PUBLISHED: 07:45 04 June 2013

A fuel flask being lifted by a crane at Sizewell A Site

A fuel flask being lifted by a crane at Sizewell A Site


Contractors are half way towards defuelling the twin reactors at Sizewell A nuclear power station.

Work began to remove spent fuel from the site in August 2009 as part of the decommissioning process.

More than half of the 52,945 fuel elements have now been removed from the site near Leiston and taken by rail to Sellafield for processing.

The station stopped generating at the end of 2006 after producing more than one hundred thousand million units of electricity over 40 years.

Defuelling was put back three years and is now expected to be completed in September 2014, when the care and maintenance phase will begin.

Management and operations firm Magnox has been contracted by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to carry out defuelling.

Site director Tim Watkins said: “This is a significant milestone in Sizewell A’s lifecycle.

“Our highly-skilled teams are doing a fantastic job in keeping the fuelling machines online, defuelling safely and efficiently.

“Removing spent fuel from reactors and transporting it to Sellafield for reprocessing is a complex process, but Magnox is using all its experience and expertise to deal with the legacy of this first generation of nuclear power stations.

“It is good news that with defuelling recently completed at our Chapelcross site, Sizewell A now has priority for flasks and is making steady progress with fewer than 160 flasks of fuel left to dispatch.

“Once all fuel has been dispatched, we will have reduced the radiological hazard on site by more than 99 per cent.”

Dr Brian Burnett, Head of Programmes for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which owns Sizewell A, said: “This is an important milestone on the site’s journey towards Care and Maintenance and a vital step in reducing hazard on the site.”

Once defuelling is complete, the focus will move to further hazard reduction, waste retrieval and processing, and demolition of conventional buildings.

The remaining buildings will then be secured and enter a passive state referred to as “care and maintenance”, before final dismantling and site clearance in 80 years.

The NDA expects the cost of returning Sizewell A to a greenfield site to be around £789m.

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