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August 14, 2015

Oldbury reactor one completes defuelling

Author: Admin - Categories: Magnox, Oldbury

Oldbury site has today announced that the first of its two reactors has been emptied of fuel. oldbury

Since it stopped generating electricity in 2012, the main focus of the site has been to empty both reactors and send the used fuel to Sellafield. When all the fuel has been shipped the site will have removed 99 per cent of its radioactive hazard.

Mike Heaton, Site Director, said: “This is yet another milestone in the life of the site and we will continue to press ahead to complete defuelling the reactors by the end of the year. Our aim is to ship all the remaining fuel to Sellafield by the early part of next year. Everyone on site is working hard to achieve this target.”

Oldbury’s reactor one began generating electricity in 1968, safely operating for over 44 years, it was shut down on the 29 February 2012. At the start of defuelling the reactor held a total of 25,826 fuel elements, each measuring 43 inches in length which, if placed end to end, would stretch 17 and a half miles.

Dr Brian Burnett, Head of Programmes at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said: “This is an important milestone on the site’s journey towards Care and Maintenance and a fantastic achievement. My congratulations to the Magnox team at Oldbury for making such excellent progress.”

During the life of reactor one there were many successes:

  • It held the world record for the longest run of 714 days from 26 May 1989 to 10 May 1991 but,
  • Achieved an even longer record from 18 March 1996 to 19 June 1998 – 823 days.
  • Since first grid connection, reactor one was on power for 13,075 days.

Reactor two is currently 85 per cent defuelled, with completion due in October.

© Magnox 2015


July 31, 2015

BBC Documentary to tell the Sellafield story

Author: Admin - Categories: sellafield

BBC4 at Sellafield

‘Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield’ is set to give the public unprecedented access into Europe’s most complex nuclear site.

To be aired on BBC Four on the 10th August at 9pm, the documentary will see nuclear physicist Jim Al-Khalili go behind the heavily guarded gates to tell the story of Sellafield and the wider nuclear industry.

The cameras were invited by Sellafield Ltd into some of the country’s most secret buildings in the hopes of increasing public understanding of the site, its challenges and the progress being made.

Darren Ennis, Head of media relations at Sellafield Ltd said: “This documentary is a fantastic opportunity for us to tell a positive story about what happens behind the fence at Sellafield and showcase the people who are taking on one of the most complex and diverse nuclear legacies in the world.

“As you can imagine with a nuclear site like Sellafield, we have a number of strict rules, regulations and security procedures which we had to navigate before we could even begin filming. Thanks to the cooperation of the BBC, the Nuclear Decommissio
ning Authority (NDA), and parts of Government such as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), we have been able to make this historic, access all areas programme which will be a first for Sellafield and the industry as a whole.

Mr Ennis added: “I welled up with pride upon previewing the programme and I believe our workforce and wider West Cumbrian community will have the same reaction when they watch it.

“This is a chance for Sellafield Ltd and the wider nuclear industry to showcase itself and also a chance for West Cumbria to put itself on the map. This is the time to tell our story.”

Presenter Jim Al-Khalili and the camera crew spent a month in West Cumbria filming the programme. Jim said: “As a nuclear physicist, I found gaining such amazing access to somewhere as huge and important as Sellafield a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Little is known about Britain’s nuclear industry so it’s no wonder that the general public have tended to be so suspicious of it, sometimes with good reason. So telling the story of Britain’s nuclear history, both the past failures and the recent successes, is vital.”

As well as looking at the experiments, technology and science behind the nuclear site, the programme will uncover Sellafield’s early history from the rush to develop nuclear weapons and power to the Windscale fire in 1957.


July 9, 2015

Dungeness A turbine hall bites the dust

Author: Admin - Categories: decommissioning, Dungeness, Magnox, NDA

The final section of the turbine hall at Magnox’s Dungeness A Site has come crashing down as a three Dungeness A turbine hallyear programme to clear the south side of the former power station draws to a close.

Members of the team gathered to see the last of 12 supporting frames fall to the ground in a dramatic ending to the project which has seen more than 30,000 tonnes of waste generated. All of the material, other than a small amount of hazardous material including asbestos, has been recycled and some rubble was reused to backfill other areas on the site. This helped keep disruption on local roads to a minimum.

Site Director, Paul Wilkinson, said: “The skyline now looks very different at Dungeness A with this representing the biggest visible change since construction was completed in the 1960s. Following 40 years of safe electricity generation, this latest success demonstrates that Magnox is now leading the way in UK nuclear decommissioning.”

Thousands of viewers visited the Magnox website in recent months where progress has been broadcast live on a webcam. Andy Dyson, from principal contractor Erith, said: “It’s great that so many people have been interested in following our progress. From asbestos stripping, to the removal of four giant generators and eventual demolition of the building itself, this has been a tough challenge. This building was made to last and, working with a great team of local people alongside core Erith staff, we’re proud to have been part of this project.”

David Batters, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority Chief Financial Officer, added: “More than £12 million was invested to deliver this work in three years rather than the original 15 years that was planned. It is an excellent example of accelerated decommissioning delivering value for the taxpayer while taking the site closer to its closure point.”

The focus now turns to other areas of the site, which is managed by Magnox on behalf of the NDA. One of the next activities will be to begin draining the cooling pond which stored used fuel before being removed from the site. The last shipment of fuel left the site in 2012, meaning that 99 per cent of the radioactive hazard at the site has been removed.

© Magnox 2015


June 19, 2015

Europe’s largest asbestos removal project completed at Chapelcross Site

Author: Admin - Categories: Chapelcross, Magnox - Tags:

An eight year project, thought to be the largest known asbestos strip in Europe, has been completed a Chapelcross_asbestosyear ahead of schedule and £5M under budget at Chapelcross Site.

The original estimate for the project was £43M, against an actual cost of £38M, with the work completed in March 2015, achieving two decommissioning milestones for Magnox’s Chapelcross Site.

Since the project began in 2007, the main contractor, OCS Environmental Services, has stripped 3,300 tonnes of asbestos from the turbine hall, four reactor buildings and 16 heat exchangers. In the last eight years over one million bags of asbestos waste (enough to fill four Olympic sized swimming pools) have been safely removed from the site and dispatched to licensed landfill sites.

Site Director, John Grierson said: “This is a tremendous achievement for Chapelcross and OCS Environmental Services; the safe, early and cost efficient delivery is testament to the quality of the personnel working on the project. It is a major milestone in moving the site towards a care and maintenance state and demonstrates our commitment to excellence in nuclear decommissioning.”

Before the actual asbestos strip could commence in 2009, two years were taken to erect a containment structure around each of the 16 heat exchangers to aid the construction of asbestos enclosures and protect the asbestos from further damage by wind and rain.

To construct the containment 506,246 feet of steel scaffolding was used, along with 194,576 fittings, 276 ladders, 48.84 tonnes of steel strengthening and 24,000 square metres of Powerclad sheeting. The whole thing took 39,000 man-hours to erect. The scaffolding boards used for the containment, if placed end to end, would stretch from Manchester to Bristol.

To remove the asbestos safely, polythene enclosures were constructed ensuring personnel on site were protected from any exposure from the asbestos removal operations and also to contain the asbestos fibres during the removal and waste handling operations. Once the bulk asbestos was removed the steelwork was fine cleaned and taken back to bare metal before being washed down. The fibre levels within the enclosure and adjacent to the enclosure were monitored by a team of independent Asbestos Analysts from Environmental Evaluation.

Brian Burnett, Head of Programmes at the NDA, said: “The safe removal of 3,300 tonnes of asbestos at Chapelcross completes an important hazard reduction activity for the site and a key step on the path to care and maintenance. I commend Chapelcross and Magnox on completing this project.”

© Magnox 2015


May 29, 2015

Dounreay completes first phase of nuclear transports

Author: Admin - Categories: Dounreay, NDA, sellafield

Dounreay has completed the transfer of 11 tonnes of nuclear material to Sellafield.Dounreay - welcome

The material, a legacy of the site’s fast reactor programme, consisted of rods of natural uranium that had been irradiated to breed new plutonium fuel for power stations.

Known as “breeder”, 11 tonnes of the material was removed from the Dounreay Fast Reactor after its closure in 1977 and stored at the site.

In 2011, after canvassing the views of the public on the options, the decision was taken by the UK Government to remove it from Dounreay.

In December 2012, the first of 32 shipments left the site by road and rail. The final shipment arrived in Sellafield earlier this month, where it is being reprocessed.

Extensive checks carried out before, during and after each move confirmed the transport was carried out without incident and in compliance with safety and security regulations.

Alex Potts, deputy director of fuels at Dounreay, said the smooth transfer was made possible by the close working of Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd with Sellafield Ltd, Direct Rail Services Ltd, flask supplier Magnox Ltd, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, Police Scotland, British Transport Police and regulatory bodies.

“Together, we have delivered safely and without harm to the public or the environment the first phase of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s programme to consolidate its inventory of nuclear fuel and materials in the UK,” he said.

“It significantly reduces the amount of nuclear material at Dounreay and takes us another step closer towards the closure of the site.”

The NDA inherited approximately 100 tonnes of nuclear fuel and material which is now being returned to national stocks.

A further 33 tonnes of breeder material remains inside the Dounreay Fast Reactor and is also scheduled to be transported to Sellafield.

Purpose-built retrieval equipment has been installed above the reactor and is now undergoing a series of tests.

Work is also continuing in preparation for the transfer of other types of nuclear fuel and material that had accumulated at the site when its research and development role came to an end in 1994.

The UK Government’s decision to remove its nuclear fuel and material from Dounreay has resulted in a rescheduling of some other decommissioning work to accommodate the additional costs associated with transport, with a new date of 2030 now projected for completion of the site clean-up and closure.


March 27, 2015

Sludge clean-up work underway at Sellafield

Author: Admin - Categories: Magnox, Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), sellafield

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is pleased to see work begin this week at Sellafield to start ONR logoremoval of highly radioactive sludge from an ageing fuel storage pond.

This follows a period of extensive collaboration between ONR, Sellafield Ltd, Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Department of Energy and Climate Change, Shareholder Executive and Environment Agency as part of a new approach to deliver agreed priorities.

The reduction of hazard and risk, quickly and safely, at Sellafield is a key national priority and ONR’s number one regulatory priority.

The removal of waste from the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond is a further major development in ONR’s new long-term strategy to help drive improvements.

This open-air storage pond is one of two similar legacy facilities on site. Over the years it has been used to accumulate quantities of spent nuclear fuel, waste materials and fuel fragments. Sludges from corrosion of fuel cladding have also accumulated. Each of these wastes needs to be removed and processed through different routes.

Sellafield has now begun to remove and store the sludges from the pond in a newly built facility on site – Sludge Packaging Plant 1.

ONR’s Director of the Sellafield Programme, Andy Lindley, said: “The first transfer of sludges is a further significant milestone in our long term aim to drive forward reduction of hazard and risk at Sellafield.

“It is a priority to remove sludge from this storage pond and we are pleased to see Sellafield get this work underway.

“A lot of planning has gone into this. We engaged with Sellafield and other key stakeholders on the plans to construct the new sludge packaging plant and on all aspects of the removal of sludges from the pond to the new plant.

“This is a complex operation and a first of its kind at Sellafield. There will be challenges in removing this material and we acknowledge that there may be some setbacks. This is highly hazardous waste and its removal will take some years to complete. But the longer term benefit is huge in terms of overall hazard and risk reduction.

“Given the difficult nature of a project such as this, issues and problems may arise and so extensive work has been undertaken to identify and mitigate potential risks.

“ONR inspectors will work with other regulators to closely monitor progress and with Sellafield to overcome any issues that do arise.”

This latest development comes one year into ONR’s new strategy for regulating Sellafield and is a further successful outcome of the collaborative approach between key stakeholders.

The strategy and collaboration is having a positive impact on acceleration of hazard and risk reduction and has led to:

First sludges removed from First Generation Magnox Storage Pond and transferred to new Sludge Packaging Plant 1.

Improved engagement between key stakeholders.

Acceleration of removal of legacy canned fuel from Sellafield’s oldest fuel storage pond (PFSP). And the start of construction of a drum-filling plant to manage handling of sludge.

Re-package and transfer of highly radioactive plutonium waste from an ageing fragile structure to a modern robust storage facility.

Agreed methodology for allowing the use of mobile cranes on site for decommissioning work.

Improvements to Sellafield’s Periodic Safety Review processes.

You can read more about ONR’s Sellafield strategy and the highlights above on the dedicated webpage



Removal of planning area for Trawsfynydd

Author: Admin - Categories: Magnox, Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), trawsfynydd

ONR is pleased to announce that there are no longer hazards at the Trawsfynydd nuclear licensed site ONR logothat require it to have a local authority off-site emergency planning area, currently a 1.3km radius area around the site, as defined by the Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations 2001, (REPPIR).

REPPIR require the operators, in this case Magnox Ltd, to assess all of the hazards on the site and submit a report of this assessment to the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). This report, along with any additional information ONR may request, is used to determine the need for, and where appropriate the extent of, the area requiring the local authority to produce an off-site emergency plan.

ONR has concluded that due to progress of decommissioning activities at the site, it is no longer reasonably foreseeable for a radiation emergency to occur at Trawsfynydd.

George Sallit, ONR Deputy Chief Inspector, said: “The announcement that the Trawsfynydd nuclear site no longer requires a REPPIR off-site emergency planning area is a very positive development. It means that ONR is satisfied that members of the public are no longer at risk from a reasonably foreseeable radiation emergency.”

However, Gwynedd Council (GC) and Magnox Ltd still have other general legal duties to protect the public and have emergency arrangements in place. These include:

Local authority, emergency services and health bodies have duties under the Civil Contingencies Act

The operator has duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act and specific duties relating to emergency arrangements and contingency planning under nuclear site licence conditions, and the Ionising Radiations Regulations

A copy of the project assessment report (PAR), which gives the details of how the decision was reached, is available on the ONR website


March 13, 2015

Pioneering centre to train future engineers

Author: Admin - Categories: berkeley, decommissioning, NDA, Training
Berkeley College

An artist’s impression of the converted engineering hall

Decommissioned land adjacent to the Berkeley site is set to be transformed into a pioneering further education campus focused on science and engineering.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College will refurbish a range of historic nuclear facilities. Some of these facilities were once destined for demolition. They will be brought back to life as the centrepiece of the new development.

The land forms part of the old Berkeley Centre research complex. It once carried out work for the UK’s entire nuclear industry. In 2006, following a comprehensive clean-up programme over many years, it became the first plot of land owned by the newly created NDA to secure de-licensing.

The 28-acre site was subsequently dedesignated by the Government in 2010. This enabled the site to be released for further use.

Its development as a science and technology park will mark successful completion of the full decommissioning cycle. The restored site has a new lease of life. One that both reflects its industrial heritage and meets the aspirations of the local community for a technology-related sustainable future.

The NDA’s Property Manager Tony Smithers said:
“This is, essentially, a site restored and mission accomplished.

“We are delighted to see the realisation of the vision of stakeholders. The vision was expressed during consultations about site end states some years ago.

“The potential for using these redundant facilities for educational purposes was not always obvious. We did once draw up plans to demolish the buildings.

“The college’s plans are exciting and ambitious. They support the UK’s drive to excel in science and engineering. They also build on Berkeley’s nuclear history. We look forward to seeing the first students welcomed onto the campus and enjoying their studies.”

The NDA has agreed a long-term lease for half of the 28-acre site after marketing the land for business use from 2006. Other premises on the site are already occupied by a range of businesses.

We expect vocational courses for the first intake of post-16-year-olds to start on site in 2016. By then the major phase of refurbishment will be complete.

The plans will see the cavernous old engineering rig hall as a focal point of the campus. Practical student training will re-use some internal equipment, such as the overhead crane. The façade will have solar panels installed. Other facilities, including a suite of welding workshops, will also be given a facelift to be re-used.

For the college, the opportunity to train future engineers and technicians in a realistic workplace environment is a major benefit.
Recreating such facilities from scratch would have been prohibitively expensive.

The campus will provide a wide-ranging curriculum up to post-doctoral level, including:

  • construction
  • mechanical
  • electrical engineering

Many of the courses will be designed to meet the
specific needs of employers in the region. The region will be a hub for the UK’s nuclear renaissance as the construction of nearby Hinkley C gains momentum. A further focus will be on sustainable skills and renewable technologies.

The College has secured £12 million of Government funding for the first phase of the anticipated £40 million development.

This includes funds for two specific projects:

  • a small-scale renewable energy research centre
  • a facility for the delivery of cyber security education and training

Both will be run in collaboration with the University of Gloucestershire.

The College will also invest at least £5 million. A decision is awaited on the College’s application to develop a £14 million University Technical College. This could specialise in training 14-19 year-olds in advanced manufacturing and cyber security skills. Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GfirstMuch, has supported much of the development work.

© Nuclear Decommissioning Authority 2005 – 2015


March 6, 2015

Sizewell A control room goes silent

Author: Admin - Categories: decommissioning, Magnox, Sizewell

The main control room at Magnox’s Sizewell A Site is now silent for the first time in more than half a SZA-Main-Control-Room-2_size-reduced-300x300century.

Home to an array of buttons, switches and dials controlling the former power station, the facility has kept the site’s heart beating 24 hours a day since generation began in the 1966.

Steve Pybus, who has worked in the facility for more than 20 years, said: “A significant period of my life, and that of my colleagues, has been spent operating the station from here. People often say it resembles something like the starship Enterprise, and coincidentally Star Trek was first broadcast in the same year that generation at Sizewell began. It is a sad and historic moment to see it empty, but a lot of work has been undertaken to prepare for this moment.”

The move, which will eventually lead to the area being dismantled, is part of an extensive programme to gear up for decommissioning. It follows regulatory agreement that the site, which generated 110 terawatt hours of electricity during a 40 year period, is now fuel free. Confirmation that the 52,000 fuel elements previously held in Sizewell’s two reactors have left the site means that 99 per cent of the radioactive hazard has been removed.

Site Director, Tim Watkins, added: “While this is the end of an era, it is very much a sign that decommissioning is starting to take shape. Magnox is leading the way at cleaning up this first generation of reactors in the UK and we will be applying all of the lessons we have learned at other sites to safely move Sizewell A to its closure point while delivering best value for the taxpayer.”

© Magnox 2015


February 13, 2015

ONR approves continued operation at Sizewell B

Author: Admin - Categories: Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR), Sizewell

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has recently confirmed that EDF Energy Nuclear Generation ONR logohas demonstrated that the Sizewell B nuclear power station can continue to operate safely until 2025.

Full details of the decision can be found here.