Defuelling, which had come to a halt due to problems at a recycling plant in Sellafield, resumes at Oldbury Nuclear Power Station

First published in News by

AFTER a slight hiccup, defuelling has resumed as normal at Oldbury Nuclear Power Station.

In November director Mike Heaton had revealed that due to problems at the recycling plant in Sellafield, Cumbria, fuel retrieved from Oldbury’s reactors was not transported as planned to station to be reprocessed over the summer.

Despite the unexpected delay, deputy site director Rob ledger confirmed this month that defuelling was now back on track and should be complete by June 2015, right on schedule.

"We started bulk defuelling on reactor two before Christmas," he said. "It’s been going well and reactor two is now 15 per cent defuelled."

Bulk defuelling of reactor one which was shut down on February 29 last year will start this month.

The 50-year-old reprocessing facility in Sellafield closed for maintenance back in August but the work lasted longer than expected.

The Cumbrian 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.

Staff numbers at Oldbury will decrease slightly by March, going from 390 to 370, with employees leaving on voluntary severance, according to Mr Ledger. "As plant maintenance continues to reduce, a few additional staff will leave on voluntary severance, although the bulk of staff on site are now supporting defuelling so staff numbers will stay largely the same until this is completed," he said.

He added that shift times were currently under review in partnership with the trade unions on site to help maximise efficiency.

The unblemished safety record was broken at the plant in January. After more a thousand days without an incident, a worker was injured and had to undergo led surgery.

" Following our fantastic run with respect to conventional safety, with over three years since a lost time accident, it is disappointing to report that we had an injury requiring hospital treatment to a subcontractor," Mr Ledger said. "He had an operation on his leg but there was nothing broken. This followed some civil refurbishment work in a shower area on site. "All events of this nature are taken extremely seriously and a detailed investigation into the event is taking place."

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