EDF Energy has inaugurated a new dry storage facility for used nuclear fuel enabling continued operation of the Sizewell B NPP in Suffolk until at least 2035. The plant supplies some 3% of the UK’s total electricity needs. It is the UK’s first Holtec International’s Dry Fuel Storage technology, which is used widely across the USA and Europe.Testing has been completed and the store is being prepared to take its first delivery of used fuel. In parallel the final stage of the approvals process is being completed for submission to the Office for Nuclear Regulation, EDF said. The dry fuel store will safely house used fuel from Sizewell B from autumn 2016 onwards until a geological disposal facility is available for longer term storage.

Last year Sizewell B achieved a UK nuclear industry record for any one plant, delivering 10.5TWh of electricity. In March 2014, the plant’s new off-site Emergency Response Centre became fully operational, which the company said was a key milestone in its GBP180m ($254.8m) investment at its NPPs.

Under the current arrangements, all the used fuel from Sizewell B’s reactor since it began producing low-carbon electricity in 1995 is safely stored under water in a fuel storage pond which was never designed for the lifetime of the plant. Planning permission for the dry fuel store was granted in July 2011, but a number of planning conditions had to be met before work could begin. Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Planning Committee gave the final go-ahead for the facility in September 2012.