Defuelling work completed at Wylfa

Magnox / NDA

Engineers have completed work on removing nuclear fuel from the former Wylfa power station.

The last flask of spent fuel has left the site for reprocessing at Sellafield in Cumbria. It marks the end of a five-year project to remove nearly 88,000 elements from the twin reactors.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority says around 99% of total radioactivity has been removed from Wylfa since the reactors were shut down.

Decommissioning work will now concentrate on clearing parts of the site, including demolishing old buildings and dismantling the turbine halls.

But the Magnox workforce at Wylfa will be cut from more than 300 to just 175 staff by December – around two-thirds of those leaving the firm are taking voluntary redundancy.

Stuart Law, site director at Wylfa, said: ”I am extremely proud of the whole team for working together to reach this important milestone in record time. It has not been an easy task and the work at Wylfa is far from complete, but today is a significant landmark in the site’s journey towards care and maintenance.”

”We have always been grateful of the support given to the site from the local community, and we hope the important part the site plays in the area can continue as we move towards becoming singularly focused on decommissioning and hazard reduction.”

Mr Law added that the defuelling process had been hampered during the first 18 months by ageing equipment ”but the dedication and problem-solving abilities of the Wylfa team and expertise drawn from across the nuclear industry led to what is, overall, an incredible performance in completing this task.”

Archive photo: Magnox / NDA

Wylfa was the last Magnox power station in the UK, operating from 1972 until the second reactor was shut down in December 2015, generating enough electricity to power 1.1 million homes for 44 years.

Staff gathered as the last flask of fuel elements was dispatched to Valley railway station, where it was sent on its way to Sellafield.

It will take another seven years for ‘care and maintenance’ work to be completed, until only the two reactor buildings and the empty fuel stores are left. Even then, the remaining facilities will have to be monitored for another century to reduce the risk of hazards.

Gwen Parry Jones, Magnox chief executive, said: ”I have been extremely impressed by the innovation, hard work and commitment of the team to safely reach such an important milestone in the life-cycle of the plant.”

”As the final Magnox site to defuel, this marks a significant landmark for Magnox as a whole in carrying out our mission to safely decommission our fleet and marks a new focus on the next phase for the whole company.”

Magnox said it was looking at finding alternative employment for its staff, including transfers to Trawsfynydd.

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