Sizewell: Spent fuel trains to be halted for Olympic Games
THE transportation of highly-radioactive spent fuel from the Sizewell A nuclear power station is to be suspended during the Olympic Games.
The route used to take the steel rail-containers housing the uranium fuel rods passes close to the Olympic village at Stratford, east London.
But, while the containers have previously been identified as a possible terrorist target, the decision to suspend transport is being attributed to a request from rail operators anxious to avoid congestion during a period when a frequent shuttle service will be running for visitors to the Games.
Spent fuel containers – called flasks – from Sizewell A are regularly sent down the East Suffolk rail line to Ipswich and from there to a marshalling yard at Stratford, prior to the journey to Sellafield in Cumbria for reprocessing.
The number of rail transports is set to increase over the next two years as the remainder of the spent fuel is removed from the two redundant Sizewell A reactors.
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The power station ceased operation in December 2006 after a 40-year lifetime and fuel transports commenced after a period in which the fuel was left to cool.
So far 101 flasks full of fuel elements have been transported to Sellafield and another 224 flask journeys will be needed to clear the remaining fuel.
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The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which now owns Sizewell A, has set a target of removing all fuel by October 2014.
Bill Hamilton, NDA spokesman, said: “The decision to suspend transports during the Olympics followed a request from the rail operators because of all the extra rail traffic during the Games.”
An ONR spokesman, said: “ONR decides on the level of security required for the transport of nuclear material on a case-by-case basis. It did not need to consider these aspects in this instance as a decision was taken by the licensee for reasons not associated with safety or security.”