Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Wylfa 'could remain open longer'

Greg Evans, site director of Wylfa nuclear power station on Anglesey, offers a guide to the plant.

An aluminium plant says extending the life of a nuclear power plant would almost certainly save hundreds of jobs.

But Anglesey Aluminium said those plans would depend on a new deal for the price of electricity being secured.

The ageing reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey are due to shut in 2010, but senior managers say the site could be open another two to three years.

Wylfa was recently earmarked as a potential location for a new nuclear power station.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is working with the power station's operators to try to extend the life of Wylfa for two years beyond its planned shutdown in 2010.

Site director Greg Evans said: "We're working hard every day at Wylfa power station to make sure we have got a case for going beyond December 2010.

We enjoy great local support for our activities on the site
Greg Evans, Wylfa site manager

said: "We're working hard every day at Wylfa power station to make sure we have got a case for going beyond December 2010.

"We've got enough fuel. The plant is capable of anywhere from two to four years of extended generation beyond 2010."

Potentially, the current plant could operate until some time between 2012 and 2014, he said.

The present reactor began producing electricity in 1971, and was the last magnox plant of its kind to be built in the UK.

There are currently 650 full-time members of staff and about 200 to 250 contractors.

'On the agenda'

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has estimated that up to 9,000 workers could be employed in building a new plant, while an estimated 1,000 staff would be needed to run any new operation.

Mr Evans said the possibility of a new nuclear power station on the site was "one of the brightest things we see on the horizon".

"I think everybody on this island is fully aware of the real potential for new build on Anglesey in terms of nuclear power," he said.

"We have a prime site and there's lots of interest and it's talked about openly."

He said that politically, nuclear power was back on the agenda.

"We enjoy great local support for our activities on the site," he added.

David Bloor, managing director of Anglesey Aluminium, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Wales that an extension to the life of Wylfa would "almost certainly" allow the company to save the jobs at the threatened plant.

'Fuel rods'

He said: "Let's rejoice in the fact that physically Wylfa's going to be there for another two to three years and I think it makes the commercial process that bit easier."

Mr Bloor said that a commercial deal to continue the supply of cheap electricity from Wylfa still had to be worked through.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan told the same programme that an extension to Wylfa's life would open up the door for Anglesey Aluminium, although the price of electricity would be "absolutely critical".

He said: "Certainly the picture that we're getting as well is that they are very confident that [Wylfa] can make a strong safety case - they've found a source of fuel rods - which was their problem before."

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