The end of an era at nuclear plant

LAST LOAD: Magnox Team members witness the last box of fuel being loaded for dispatch to Wylfa
LAST LOAD: Magnox Team members witness the last box of fuel being loaded for dispatch to Wylfa
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SPRINGFIELDS workers have marked the end of an era.

After 56 years and more than five and a half million fuel elements, the last consignment of Magnox fuel finally left the Westinghouse-operated nuclear fuel manufacturing site.

The eight boxes of fuel were destined for Wylfa Power Station on the Isle of Anglesey. Although manufacture of Magnox fuel was completed in 2008, Springfields continues to provide a fuel storage, delivery and technical support service to Magnox Limited.

This final shipment marks the end of a programme for the supply fuel elements to a fleet of 13 power stations located in the UK, Italy and Japan.

The first 1,000 elements were completed and delivered to Calder Hall in Cumbria in September 1955.

Neil Longfellow, managing director of Springfields Fuels Limited, said: “The Magnox power stations were the first generation of commercial nuclear power stations in the world and have been a major success story in the UK’s nuclear industry.

“For more than 55 years they have provided electricity safely, reliably and efficiently. Magnox production was for many years the backbone of fuel manufacturing at Springfields.”

Wylfa’s site director Nick Gore added: “This is a significant event for Wylfa and the nuclear industry as a whole - it marks the end of an era. I must congratulate all of the staff who have been involved with fuel delivery, inspection and dispatching over the years, and have looked after each and every one of the fuel flasks in a safe and controlled manner.”

The pioneering work on Magnox fuel also helped the development of the fabrication processes for Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor fuel and Light Water Reactor fuel, which are both manufactured at the site.

Wylfa power station was the last Magnox station to be commissioned and received its initial charge of fuel from Springfields in 1970. Since Wylfa fuel production commenced, Springfields has produced more than 600,000 fuel elements for the station.

Subject to safety case approval it is planned to operate one of the Wylfa reactors until 2014 in order to fully utilise existing stocks of fuel.