OLDBURY Power Station's defuelling deadline has been pushed back to 2016, as priority is given to decommissioning other plants.

Spent fuel retrieved from nuclear reactors around the country is transported in flasks to Sellafield in Cumbria to be reprocessed.

Restrictions on the amount of fuel which can be stored at the reprocessing facilities have meant that defuelling will take place in order of importance, delaying Oldbury by a year.

As a result, the number of flasks shipped out of Oldbury will be reduced over the next year to two per week until Sizewell A, a plant also owned by Magnox and at a later stage in its decommissioning process, is fully defuelled.

This will set Oldbury's final defuelling date back from June 2015 to 2016.

Deputy director for Oldbury Rob Ledger told members of the power station's Site Stakeholder Group at a meeting last Wednesday, July 24: "The end of defuelling date at Oldbury is now looking to be sometime in 2016.

"Due to restrictions on the amount of spent Magnox fuel that can be stored in water nationally, priority is being given within the company to defuelling Sizewell A.

"This means the rate of defuelling at Oldbury will be restricted to one or two flasks per week for the next year or so, before moving more towards three flasks per week once Sizewell is defuelled."

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.

Oldbury Power Station's two reactors are currently six percent and 27 percent defuelled respectively.

They are both in natural circulation, which means that as long as water is fed into its boilers, air circulates naturally to keep them cool.

These changes have reduced the need for maintenance on site, which means that between 10 and 20 workers out of the plant's 349 employees will leave in 2014.