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Thursday, 28 March, 2002, 16:31 GMT
Nuclear power plant closes
Inside Bradwell power station in Essex
Both reactors will close over the Easter weekend
A ceremony has been held to mark the closure of one of Britain's oldest nuclear power stations after 40 years in service.

Bradwell power station on the Essex coast is to stop producing electricity over the Easter weekend, ready for a lengthy decommissioning process.

The Lord Lieutenant of Essex, Lord Braybrooke, ceremoniously closed the British Nuclear Fuels site on Thursday by unveiling a plaque.

Enviromental campaigners said they welcomed the shutdown of the station, near Burnham-on-Crouch.

1962 archive picture of Bradwell nuclear power station
The plant has been open since 1962

A spokesman for Bradwell, Robin Thornton, said that workers and local VIPs had attended the ceremony.

"We were looking at the safe and successful end to Bradwell nuclear power station," he said.

"On an average day, the plant provided enough energy to supply the needs of three towns of the size of Colchester, Chelmsford and Southend."

Bradwell is closing because it is no longer economical to run.

One reactor will close on Saturday, and the second on Sunday - the 40th birthday of the plant.

The shutdown will mean some 100 job losses, though the remainder of the 350 workers will be kept on at the plant.

Friends of the Earth protestors
Environmentalists are calling for investment in renewable energy

The defuelling process alone will take some three years, and it is thought there will be workers on the site in gradually decreasing numbers until 2012.

The defuelling of the plant will be followed by a decommissioning process lasting several decades.

Government decisions as to how exactly to treat some of the radioactive waste are still pending.

This fact has worried Friends of the Earth campaigners, who joined local residents in a symbolic protest outside the gates.

Toxic 'legacy'

They displayed an eight-foot high model wind turbine as a call to the government to invest in renewable forms of energy rather than more nuclear power plants.

"The cost of decommissioning nuclear power plants runs into billions," said a spokesman.

"They leave a lasting legacy of toxic waste.

"We should say goodbye to the nuclear dinosaur."

Click here to go to Essex
See also:

23 May 00 | Scotland
Nuclear plant closure plans
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