Sizewell decommissioning delayed

DECOMMISSIONING of the last of the radioactive material from Sizewell A has been put back 75 years, with energy bosses saying it isn't their number one priority.

DECOMMISSIONING of the last of the radioactive material from Sizewell A has been put back 75 years, with energy bosses saying it isn't their number one priority.

The removal of all hazardous waste from the twin reactor nuclear plant had been recommended to be fast-tracked to only take 25-30 years, but those plans have now been thrown out.

Nuclear radioactive waste will now stay on the Suffolk coast at the Sizewell A site until 2110 after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) committed its resources to Sellafield and Dounreay. But last night the organisation insisted the situation was not motivated by financial constraints.

Anti-nuclear campaigners are up in arms over what they claim to be a 'U-turn', saying it will leave Suffolk open to potential terrorist attacks for years to come.

Charles Barnett, chairman of the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, said: 'This is entirely unacceptable. Not only to us, the Shutdown Sizewell Campaign, but I would hope to the Sizewell Stakeholder Group and the public generally.

'I would think it has got to be done much more quickly than that, otherwise what is the purpose of the NDA if they are not going to deliver what they promise?'

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'They have badly under estimated the total cost of clearing up the nuclear industry in this country and that is their fault not ours.'

He added: 'It is massively highly radioactive fuel. Not only is it being left there, it could be a target for a terrorist attack.'

A spokesman for the NDA, which receives money from the Government to remove radioactive material from nuclear plants, said of the decision: 'It has nothing to do with money whatsoever. The possibility for 25-30 years was when the NDA originally came into being (2006).

'In our first strategy we said we would look at accelerating the programme and that could reduce significantly the number of years it takes to decommission Sizewell A and other Magnox sites.

'Since then our financial priorities have moved to removing the highest radioactive hazardous risks which has moved our strategy.'

He admitted: 'In broad terms there is a financial implication.'

But he refuted the claim the organisation had gone back on its promise to the people of Suffolk and said it had only considered accelerating the project, not committed to it.

He added once defuelling from Sizewell A's twin reactors had finished later this year it would mean 90% of the radioactive material had gone.

The original strategy outlined how decommissioning of all the remaining nuclear waste from the plant could be removed and it could be turned into a Greenfield site in 25-30 years.

Sizewell A envisaged timetable to decommissioning:

Year Milestones

2006 End of operations - cessation of electricity generation.

2009 Defuelling - end of defueling, all irradiated fuel elements delivered to Sellafield.

2013 ILW store complete - waste store constructed to house Sizewell A's waste.

2015 Turbine Hall demolition - major redundant plant and building demolished.

2018 Initial decommissioning phase complete - care and maintenance preparations complete.

2048 Removal of ILW store - waste store removed prior to final site clearance.

2110 Final site clearance and closure.