Nuclear shutdown on New Year's Eve

SUFFOLK'S Sizewell A power station's life is today drawing to a close as it will generate its last electricity for the national grid on New Year's Eve.

SUFFOLK'S Sizewell A power station's life is today drawing to a close as it will generate its last electricity for the national grid on New Year's Eve.

The two reactors will be shut down during the day and will never produce any more power.

The first reactor will be turned off at 11am on Sunday, with the second reactor supplying the last power to the National Grid at 3pm.

The closure comes 40 years after the station began supplying power to the country in 1966 - and will herald the start of a long decommissioning process.

Over the next few years the fuel rods will be removed from the reactor and the buildings containing non-radioactive elements will be removed.

The first two phases of decommissioning, removing the fuel and demolishing the ancillary buildings, will take about ten years.

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At present, the proposal is that should then be left until 2110 before it is demolished - but with such a huge timescale it is possible that technology will advance and a different solution will be arrived at.

Ironically, the number of people employed at the Sizewell A site will increase once generation ceases, at least in the medium term as decommissioning work takes place.

The final switch-off will be filmed and the images beamed back to members of staff at the plant's social club.

Station manager Ray Jepps said: “This is a major day for Sizewell A, but the effect on the local economy will not be that great in the immediate future.

“There are about 20 people who are leaving at the end of generation, but most people will be staying on and we are actually creating about 30 new jobs here.”

There were still a few people working at Sizewell A who had been there since the start of power generation in 1966.

Mr Jepps said: “It is an important day for everyone - but we have known this is coming and everyone is ready now.”


n Was Sizewell A good for Britain? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

1959: Sizewell chosen for the site of a new nuclear power plant.

1961: Construction of Sizewell A starts.

1966: Sizewell A starts generating electricity - originally planned to have a 25-year life but this was twice extended.

1980: Proposal to build a second nuclear station at Sizewell announced.

1983-5: Public inquiry into Sizewell B.

1987: Construction of Sizewell B starts.

1994: Sizewell B starts generating power.

2006: Sizewell A stops generating power.

2007-9: Nuclear material removed from Sizewell A's two reactors.

2009-2017: Decommissioning work sees all the buildings at Sizewell A, apart from the main reactor hall, demolished.

2030: Sizewell B due for decommissioning.

2110: Final site clearance at Sizewell A.

N During its 40-year life the power station has generated enough electricity to keep England alight for a year.

N It has prevented 125 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere from coal-fired power stations.

N It has prevented 48 million tonnes of coal being burned - creating 13 million tonnes of ash.

N All the nuclear waste created by Sizewell A could fit in a single football stadium.

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