The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) has awarded the contract to decommission western Europe's first reactor to Scotland-based Mitsui Babcock. The reactor, GLEEP the Graphite Low Energy Experimental Pile first went critical in 1947 and was shut down in 1990. Decommissioning is planned to be completed by autumn 2004. Removal of the fuel and control rods took place in 1994/95.
GLEEP played a key role in the development of civil nuclear energy in Britain. It was used in investigations into how to make a nuclear reactor work including the early design and development of Magnox nuclear fuel. It was later used as an international standard for testing materials for other nuclear reactors and for calibration.
The final phase of GLEEP's decommissioning and the complete removal and dismantling of the reactor will allow the removal of two hangars and other associated buildings, freeing the eastern end of the Harwell site in Oxfordshire for new development. The total cost of decommissioning and other demolition work is around £10 million.