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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
Nuclear reactor decommissioned
Hinkley plant
The Hinkley A reactor will be decommissioned next year
A nuclear power station in Somerset, which has been closed for months due to technical problems, will not be reopening.

The operator, British Nuclear Fuels plc (BNFL), said the Hinkley Point A nuclear reactor at Bridgwater will be decommissioned next year.

The 35-year-old plant has been closed since last April.

BNFL says the work needed to bring it up to standard would be uneconomical.

The news was broken to the staff of 350 on Tuesday.

The company said there will be no significant job losses this year, but expects 100 redundancies next year.

Other closures confirmed

BNFL also confirmed the timetable of a phased programme for the cessation of electricity generation at seven remaining Magnox stations.

Bradwell in Essex is scheduled to be closed down in 2002.

Dungeness A in Kent and Sizewell A in Suffolk will stop generating electricity in 2006.

Calder Hall on the Sellafield site in Cumbria will stop operating between 2006 and 2008.

Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire will be decommissioned between 2008 and 2010.

Old-style Magnox fuel rods
Magnox reactors were licensed to operate for between 33 and 50 years

Oldbury in Gloucestershire will close in 2013 and Wylfa on the Isle of Anglesey, Wales between 2016 and 2021.

The announcement means the Magnox reprocessing plant (B205) at Sellafield will close, once all Magnox fuel has been processed.

It is expected this will be around the year 2012.

BNFL's chief executive Norman Askew said: "Everyone knows that these stations have a finite life and there has been speculation as to our intention regarding their operating lives.

"It will bring clarity to the company's business plans, explains our plans to our employees and provides us with time to work with the communities around our stations on plans for decommissioning.

"These stations were pioneers in the nuclear industry and have made, and are continuing to make, a huge carbon-free contribution to the electricity generating industry."

BNFL took over responsibility for the UK's Magnox power stations in January 1998 when the former Magnox Electric plc was merged into BNFL.

Greenpeace disappointed

Paul Dorfman from the Stop Hinkley campaign group welcomed the closure decision, which he said was "long overdue".

Mr Dorfman, a university lecturer in pollution control, told BBC News Online: "It was operating past its sell by date and was creating large quantities of low and intermediate level waste."

He added that research had linked clusters of breast cancer in the area to pollution from the plant.

But the pressure group Greenpeace expressed its disappointment at the news.

Nuclear campaigner Bridget Goodman told BBC News Online that BNFL had not gone far enough.

She said: "Hinkley was in a pretty appalling state, so we are pleased at the news.

"But we are worried about the extended life of the others.

"They (BNFL) have missed an opportunity to show a realistic attitude to the future of nuclear power."

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24 Feb 00 | Talking Point
Can nuclear power ever be safe?
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