News story

We're half way there

Hazard reduction at the Wylfa nuclear site on Anglesey has reached a significant milestone, with more than half of the used nuclear fuel now emptied from its reactors by Magnox Ltd.

Fuel rods
Fuel rods

When operating, Wylfa’s 2 reactors together contained nearly 100,000 fuel elements. Since the end of generation, on 30 December 2015, the site’s main focus has been to empty both reactors and send all the remaining used fuel to Sellafield for reprocessing. When Wylfa completes defueling, this will mark the end of one of the UK’s largest programmes of nuclear and hazard reduction work.

Britain’s pioneering fleet of 11 Magnox reactors were the world’s first commercial nuclear power stations. The earliest, Calder Hall, came online in 1956 and Wylfa was the last to finish generating low-carbon electricity. In almost 60 years, around 5 million Magnox fuel elements were manufactured for UK nuclear power stations.
Once the reactors are empty, and all the fuel elements have been dispatched to Sellafield, over 99 per cent of the site’s radiological hazard will have been removed.

This marks a significant achievement for Magnox Ltd’s and for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) mission of safely cleaning up the legacy from the earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry.

Defueling at Wylfa
Defueling at Wylfa

Stuart Law, Wylfa Site Director, said:

This is a landmark achievement for the site, which has involved a lot of hard work and dedication from the highly skilled team at Wylfa.

It’s a meticulous process and it takes time but we have the skills, the knowledge and the people to safely and securely deliver the Magnox work programme.

Tim Dunham, Magnox Head of Nuclear Operations, commented:

This is a proud moment for the site in its vital contribution to closing out the Magnox fuel cycle. My congratulations go to the team for safely reaching this point. We envisage that the defuelling programme will complete in mid to late 2019 with everyone working hard to achieve this target.

Geoff Suitor, Head of the Magnox Programme for the NDA, said:

Removing all the used nuclear fuel from a station, when it finishes generating electricity, is the first major step in removing the all the hazards and decommissioning the site. Passing the half-way stage is a great sign of the progress being made by our colleagues at Magnox.

Published 21 December 2017