News story

Oldbury nuclear reactors emptied of fuel

Oldbury nuclear power station has removed the last fuel from its reactors, marking the end of an era for the site.

During defuelling more than 52,000 fuel elements were removed from the reactors and the final element was removed from reactor two at 23.52 on Sunday 4 October.

Keri James, Defuelling Manager at Oldbury, said:

I am proud to be part of the team that removed the final fuel from these reactors. The work doesn’t end here though; we still need to ship the fuel to Sellafield, which will take us several more months. Once the fuel has all been sent off site, we will have removed about 99 per cent of the site’s radioactive inventory.

Mike Heaton, Oldbury Site Director, added:

This achievement is the culmination of a great deal of hard work and dedication from the team at Oldbury. They have excelled at delivering this work, safely and ahead of schedule.

The final fuel is due to leave the site in the new year. Once all the fuel is shipped, Oldbury will move into its decommissioning phase, which will bring a new set of challenges.

Dr Brian Burnett, NDA Head of Programmes, said:

My congratulations go to the team at Oldbury for achieving this important milestone three months ahead of schedule. Magnox remains on track to transport all fuel from Oldbury early in 2016, which will remove 99% of the radiological hazard from the site.

Oldbury’s reactor one began generating electricity in 1968, safely operating for over 44 years, it was shut down on the 29 February 2012. At the start of defuelling each reactor held a total of 25,826 fuel elements, each measuring 43 inches in length which, if placed end to end, would stretch 17 and a half miles.

All eyes now turn to Wylfa power station on Anglesey as it becomes the final operating Magnox reactor. It is due to cease generation later this year and will begin its own programme of defuelling in 2016.