The British government said Thursday that the Magnox reactors at the Bradwell Site, in Essex, England, had entered a state known as ‘care and maintenance," which designate a stage in which the defueled power plants are to remain dormant for the next 65 years at rest while covered in a weather-poof cladding. This is the first time in the UK that a shuttered nuclear plant had reached this decommissioning milestone, said Magnox.
A celebration event was held at the nearby Steeple Village Hall on 29 November to mark the work completed to take the site into its C&M phase.
"To achieve this, and gain regulatory approval, both of the Essex nuclear power station’s reactor buildings have been defuelled, decommissioned and covered in weatherproof cladding to create ‘safestores’ - with all intermediate level waste (ILW) packaged and safely stored on site," the government said.
The government statement said the milestone was a a significant step "towards eventual final site clearance and cleaning up the legacy from the earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry."
Bradwell has been a pathfinder site, delivering hazard reduction safer and sooner, making many first-of-a-kind innovations and developing innovative approaches to decommissioning. For example, the equipment and techniques developed to retrieve, condition and package ILW are now being used to progress decommissioning and hazard reduction work at other Magnox sites.
The lessons learned from reaching C&M at Bradwell will help inform the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) strategy for decommissioning and hazard reduction at its other sites in the UK.
"Bradwell’s success in reaching this milestone marks a new and welcome chapter in its environmental clean-up journey, protecting the public from hazards. Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we want to keep the UK as a world leader in cutting-edge decommissioning, which has significant export opportunities, delivering highly skilled jobs, innovation and regional growth," said Minister for Nuclear, Richard Harrington.
Bradwell’s Magnox-type reactors were brought into service in 1962 and are two of the UK’s oldest. They generated low-carbon electricity for more than 40 years.
On an average day, Bradwell produced enough power to serve an urban area the size of Chelmsford, Colchester and Southend put together.
Now in care and maintenance, the site will be managed by Sizewell A following lengthy preparation for this task. Entry to the reactors and associated buildings will only be required once year initially and then every five years for routine inspection and maintenance.
The site has new state of the art security systems installed and will have a fully manned security presence in place while it continues to receive ILW packages from Dungeness A Site in Kent and Sizewell A Site in Suffolk. These will be stored in the site’s interim storage facility along with Bradwell’s waste packages.
Since the station ceased generation in 2002 and all the fuel was removed from the site, a large-scale decommissioning program has been safely undertaken at the site, with the focus on preparing it for C&M.
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