Fuel removal delayed at Oldbury Power Station
FUEL removal from site is on standby at Oldbury Power Station due to problems at a Cumbrian recycling plant.
The 50-year-old reprocessing facility in Sellafield was shut down for maintenance back in August but the work lasted longer than expected.
This has meant that fuel retrieved from Oldbury’s reactors was not transported as planned to the station over the summer.
Yet, Oldbury manager Mike Heaton reassured the nuclear plant’s stakeholders at a meeting on Wednesday, October 24 that as far as he and his team were concerned this would not delay the decommissioning process.
He said: "Little progress has been made with removing fuel from Oldbury and dispatching it for reprocessing at Sellafield. Until the Sellafield problems have been resolved we won’t be able to move much fuel. But our defuelling end date remains June 2015."
The Sellafield plant converts the spent fuel from nuclear reactors worldwide into re-useable uranium, plutonium, and highly radioactive products that will have to be safely stored for thousands of years.
Despite the slight hiccup, Oldbury itself has enjoyed a smooth and safe decommissioning process. The nuclear power station this month celebrated 1000 accident-free days.
This achievement was recognised by the British Safety Council which rated the plant five starts after a tough week-long review and handed it its highest award, the Sword of Honour.
Mr Heaton added: "That places the Oldbury workforce in a small elite. I’m really proud of that. It’s the second sword of honour this site has achieved. We are really pleased with our safety performance."
The swift progress made with decommissioning and removing hazards from the site, inclduing carbon dioxide, hydrogen and oil, has meant that the plant was recently allowed to scale down its safety scheme arrangements.
And this has gone a long way to keep everybody in good spirits.
"The staff morale on site remains high," Mr heaton said. "It has not dipped since we stopped generating."
Staff numbers will decrease again by March next year, going from 390 to 370. The plant counted a workforce of around 430 employees when it shut down back in February.
Great strides have recently been made to reduce energy costs with the introduction of a new heating system and the installation of secondary glazing across the nuclear station.