Sizewell A: Work to remove 1,000 tonnes of asbestos from redundant nuclear plant to start in 2014

Sizewell A power station. Sizewell A power station.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
11:00 AM

Work to remove more than 1,000 tonnes of asbestos from the redundant Sizewell A nuclear power station is expected to start next year.

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The asbestos will become what Magnox Limited, the site operator, describes as the plant’s “most significant hazard” following the completion of the removal of highly radioactive spent fuel rods from the site.

Magnox is currently assessing the likely cost of the asbestos removal prior to a bid to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for funding.

If the bid is approved, the work – to strip the asbestos from pipework in the turbine hall and transport it off-site for specialist disposal – is likely to start next year.

Tim Watkins, site director, told a meeting of the Sizewell Stakeholder Group: “This will be a substantial job and when it’s finished a big hazard will be gone.”

He said work on removing spent fuel from the two reactors was progressing well, with three loads a week currently leaving Sizewell Halt on the rail journey to Sellafield in Cumbria where the material will be reprocessed.

More than 60% of the 50,000 fuel elements have so far been removed and the rest are scheduled to go by September 2014, the deadline set by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Mr Watkins said efforts were continuing to minimise the job losses which would follow the completion of de-fuelling – the major work in the decommissioning process.

Talks are continuing with trades unions, and EDF Energy – which runs the adjacent Sizewell B plant – has agreed to the transfer of six health physics staff from the A site.

“The total job losses will be less than 120,” Mr Watkins said.

At present Sizewell A has 314 staff and 107 contract workers.

Sizewell A ceased electricity generation in 2006 after 40 years of operation. The site is not expected to be returned to its “green field” condition for at least 80 years.

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