In a first for the UK nuclear industry, Magnox has announced that Bradwell Site has entered a safe state known as ‘care and maintenance’.
To achieve this, and gain regulatory approval, both of the Essex nuclear power station’s reactor buildings have been defuelled, decommissioned and covered in weatherproof cladding to create ‘safestores’ – with all intermediate level waste (ILW) packaged and safely stored on site.
This is the first Magnox site to make its transition into care and maintenance (C&M) and represents a significant milestone along the decommissioning journey towards eventual final site clearance and cleaning up the legacy from the earliest days of the UK’s nuclear industry.
Bradwell has been a pathfinder site – delivering hazard reduction safer and sooner, making many first-of-a-kind innovations and developing innovative approaches to decommissioning. For example, the equipment and techniques developed to retrieve, condition and package ILW are now being used to progress decommissioning and hazard reduction work at other Magnox sites.
The lessons learned from reaching C&M at Bradwell will help inform the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) strategy for decommissioning and hazard reduction at its other sites in the UK.
Minister for Nuclear, Richard Harrington, said: “Bradwell’s success in reaching this milestone marks a new and welcome chapter in its environmental clean-up journey, protecting the public from hazards. Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we want to keep the UK as a world leader in cutting-edge decommissioning, which has significant export opportunities, delivering highly skilled jobs, innovation and regional growth.”
Bradwell’s Magnox-type reactors were brought into service in 1962 and are two of the UK’s oldest. They generated low-carbon electricity for more than 40 years. On an average day, Bradwell produced enough power to serve an urban area the size of Chelmsford, Colchester and Southend put together.
Since the station ceased generation in 2002 and all the fuel was removed from the site, a large-scale decommissioning programme has been safely undertaken at the site, with the focus on preparing it for C&M.
David Peattie, the NDA’s Chief Executive, said: “Bradwell becoming the first of the UK’s legacy sites to enter care and maintenance is a historic moment, not just for Magnox Ltd and the NDA, but for the country. I’d like to give my thanks to all who have been involved in the collaborative effort to deliver this significant achievement.
“Together we have developed a vision for our seventeen sites around the UK, with ambitious targets to accelerate decommissioning and secure savings. Within this, Bradwell has pioneered methods for tackling the challenges we face at many of our Magnox reactor sites, and has contributed to an important body of expertise that is being shared across the NDA Group.”
A celebration event was held at the nearby Steeple Village Hall on 29th November to mark the work completed to take the site into its C&M phase.
Simon Bowen, on behalf of the Cavendish Fluor Partnership, the Joint Venture which owns Magnox said: “The success of delivering the first UK nuclear reactor site into care and maintenance is due to the dedication of the team at Bradwell aided by the support from the wider Magnox team.
“From the ambition to mobilise and fund the accelerated programme; the drive and determination of the Bradwell team, the support from other Magnox sites and programme teams, along with the supply chain – this has truly been a team effort.”
Now in care and maintenance, the site will be managed by Sizewell A following lengthy preparation for this task. Entry to the reactors and associated buildings will only be required once year initially and then every five years for routine inspection and maintenance.
The site has new state of the art security systems installed and will have a fully manned security presence in place while it continues to receive ILW packages from Dungeness A Site in Kent and Sizewell A Site in Suffolk. These will be stored in the site’s interim storage facility along with Bradwell’s waste packages.