Sellafield ‘s Magnox Reprocessing Plant took its final feed of spent fuel just before midnight on Sunday 17 July 2022, Sellafield UK said.
Fuel was fed into the plant’s charge machine, then dissolved in nitric acid to separate out the plutonium and uranium. The same process which has seen approximately 55,000 metric tons of Magnox fuel reprocessed through the facility.
The historic last load brought to an end 58 years of safe operations in the plant. The building and its supporting plants will soon enter a new era of clean-out and decommissioning.
Generations of Sellafield workers have helped keep low carbon electricity flowing to homes and businesses through the plant’s operations.
It recycled fuel used in the UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations, known as the Magnox fleet.
The final station, at Wylfa in north Wales, closed in 2015. Since then Sellafield’s reprocessing plant has been working through the stock of spent fuel left over by these pioneering powerhouses.
In total, the plant reprocessed 54,920 metric tons of Magnox fuel. That’s more than half the volume of fuel reprocessed anywhere in the world.
“The Magnox Reprocessing Plant has been one of the biggest success stories in British industrial history. It has helped save 2.3 billion metric tons of carbon over its lifetime by supporting electricity generations across the UK,” said Martin Chown, Sellafield Ltd chief executive officer.
“When the Magnox plant started operating in 1964 it was expected to have a shelf life of 20 years. The fact it has lasted 58 years is testament to the expertise and dedication of those who have been running the plant. But now is the safe time to stop,” he added.
There will be no job losses as a result of ending reprocessing.
Employee numbers in the plant will remain roughly similar during the post-operational clean-out phase, which is expected to take about 2 years.
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