Magnox has dispatched its final flask of fuel from Dungeness A for reprocessing at Sellafield in Cumbria, completing a five-year programme of defuelling which has removed 99% of the radioactive hazard from the site.
This significant milestone enables Dungeness A to move into a period of focused decommissioning aimed at reaching ‘interim care and maintenance’ by 2019. This will leave the site in a safe and secure state, with all its higher hazards stabilised or removed, releasing resources for higher levels of work at other sites.
Ray Jepps, Dungeness A Site Director, said: “The team has worked really hard to get this result. In the last year they have safely and progressively increased our defuelling performance to a point where we have been shipping four flasks per week.
“We must now complete a programme of work to demonstrate that all the fuel has gone before we can formally notify our regulators, the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency. Once they accept our notification the site will be re-categorised, decreasing our security and nuclear emergency preparedness requirements, and allowing us to move into the next stage of decommissioning.”
Brian Burnett, Head of Programmes at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which owns the site, said: “The NDA is very pleased to see Magnox making such good progress on defuelling. This is an important milestone for Dungeness A and another success in our task of cleaning up the UK’s civil nuclear legacy.
“It shows the capability of the Magnox Optimised Decommissioning Programme to deliver early hazard removal, cost-effective decommissioning and to move the Magnox estate incrementally towards its end-point.”
Richard Waite, President, UK and Europe at EnergySolutions, the owners of Magnox Ltd, said: “The defuelling of a site is always a major step in its clean-up and we are proud of Ray and his team for their achievements at Dungeness.
“We now look forward to the work of moving the site on to the next stage of its remediation, a programme which will draw on the depth and breadth of capabilities across our organization and see the implementation of innovations and learning from elsewhere in the fleet to deliver significant further hazard reductions.”
Dungeness has recently been through a significant workforce transition to enable it to refocus on decommissioning. Near-term work priorities include a mix of conventional and radiological projects, from asbestos removal, de-planting and demolition, to the draining and sealing of its redundant spent fuel storage ponds and retrieval of legacy wastes.