The UK's Bradwell NPP has become the first Magnox site to empty and decontaminate all of its underground waste storage vaults ready for the care and maintenance phase. Magnox Sites, owned by Cavendish Fluor Partnership, is the management and operations contractor responsible for safely managing 12 nuclear sites and one hydroelectric plant in the UK working for the sites' owner, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
Decommissioning of Bradwell's two 125 MWe Magnox reactors has been under way since the plant shut down in 2002 after 40 years of service. All fuel was removed from the site by 2005, and the turbine hall demolished in 2011. Waste, including metal, sand and sludge, was stored in 18 different vaults during the site's 40 year operational phase. A key decommissioning task has been to safely recover that waste, characterise it and find the most suitable treatment or disposal route.
The recovered waste has been monitored and characterised, which has provided the clearest picture yet of the total volume of waste that will need to be managed at Bradwell. Some is being treated in a specially designed dissolution plant, while other types of waste are being conditioned and then packaged ready for interim storage until a national Geological Disposal Facility is available.
With the vaults empty, a total area of 972m² has now been decontaminated to a level where it can be left for care and maintenance. In addition, three vessels, each weighing 7t, have been removed and size-reduced while more than 60 waste vault covers have also been decontaminated. The area will now be covered for the care and maintenance phase before being completely removed as part of final site clearance in the future.
Under the strategic siting assessment process, Bradwell was approved in 2011 as a site for new build. In connection with the Hinkley Point agreement in October 2015, EDF and China General Nuclear agreed to form a joint venture company to advance plans for a new plant at Bradwell and seek regulatory approval - through the Generic Design Assessment process - for a UK version of the Chinese-designed Hualong One reactor.