UK's Wylfa nuclear plant to be decommissioned

WALES - The ageing Wylfa nuclear power plant in Wales has moved closer to being decommissioned following consent from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

The agency's permission is the first of two needed for the Wylfa plant to finally start decommissioning work. Wylfa, based on the island of Anglesey, is due to stop generating electricity in 2010, but Magnox North, which operates the site, is fighting to extend that by a few years. If successful, decommissioning work may be delayed.

The 980-megawatt (MW) Wylfa Power Station started up in 1971 and was the last and largest one built using older carbon-dioxide-cooled reactors. For additional information, see related news item from July 15, 2008 - UK's Magnox Nuclear Reactors at 980-Megawatt Wylfa Station to be Decommissioned after 2010.

The decommissioning consent was the result of three years work by Wylfa's operators, which had to produce plans for the Inspectorate on how exactly it planned to dismantle the reactors, handle the radioactive waste and deal with all of the environmental concerns.

"This is a key milestone for Wylfa and something the site has worked hard to achieve," site director Greg Evans said. "Although we are working hard to extend the period of electricity generation at Wylfa, obtaining this consent demonstrates that we are responsibly planning for our future, whilst delivering all of our current obligations to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and our local environment safely and responsibly."

The UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is currently auctioning off land next to Wylfa to the highest bidder for the future building of a new nuclear power station. Over the past two weeks, the online auction has resulted in a bidding war, which has taken a break for Easter but will resume again on April 14. Land next to the nuclear plants in Bradwell in Essex and Oldbury in South Gloucestershire are also up for grabs.

Those bidding are thought to include German power giants RWE Power and E.ON AG, French electricity utility Electricite de France, and a consortium made up of Iberdrola Renovables SA, GDF Suez and Scottish and Southern Energy Plc.

"We are pleased that the innovative process applied to the sale is working well", said Sam Hounslow, Project Manager for the NDA sale. "The level of competition for the three sites has obvious benefits for both the NDA and U.K. taxpayer as a result of the revenue being generated."


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