The defueling was successfully completed ahead of a target set by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). The site is now fuel-free for the first time in almost half a century and this marks a major milestone in the decommissioning process.
Since electricity generation ended in 2006, more than 52,000 individual fuel elements have been systematically removed and transported to Sellafield for reprocessing, carefully packaged in 50-tonne shielded flasks.
Tim Watkins, Site Director, said:
“Every member of the Sizewell A team has demonstrated determination and pride as they’ve safely progressed defuelling during the last few years to reach this historic moment. It’s another success to add to an impressive record including 40 years of electricity generation. ”
Regulators will now complete a process that should verify fuel-free status later this year.
Dr Brian Burnett, NDA Head of Programmes, said:
“To have dispatched the last fuel flask from the site some seven weeks ahead of the DECC target is a fantastic achievement and testament to the dedication, commitment and professionalism of the team at Sizewell A. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who has been involved in achieving this important milestone.”
Neil Baldwin, Magnox Managing Director, added:
“To safely deliver this milestone ahead of schedule is a fantastic achievement and I congratulate everyone involved. Reducing hazard is at the core of our mission and this is yet another great example of doing just that. We have now removed the spent fuel legacy from eight of the Magnox sites.”
Attention now turns to the next stage of decommissioning where waste will be recovered and treated, while redundant machinery will be removed and non-essential buildings will be demolished. Completion of this process is scheduled for 2027, when Sizewell A is scheduled to enters a period of passive care and maintenance.
Only three of the UK’s 11 first-generation nuclear power stations, the Magnox plants, now have fuel. Wylfa is still generating electricity, while defueling is under way at Oldbury, in Gloucestershire, and Calder Hall in Cumbria.