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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 December 2006, 17:45 GMT
Nuclear switch-off at Dungeness A
Dungeness A nuclear power station site (from British Nuclear Group)

A nuclear power plant which has been generating electricity for 41 years has had its two reactors shut down.

Dungeness A was built right on the shoreline in the Romney Marsh area of Kent in the 1960s.

It began producing power in 1965 and was kept in operation for 16 years beyond its original end date in 1990.

The nuclear reactors were switched off at different times on New Year's Eve, before a lengthy decommissioning and site clearance programme began.

Nearly 400 people currently work at the 225 acre (91 hectare) Dungeness A site.

Less efficient

Despite concerns about nuclear risks and the effect on wildlife in the area, the power station has also been credited with boosting the Romney Marsh economy over the years.

Alan Green, who was on the start-up team and had risen to deputy manager by the time he retired, said: "Lots of people who had jobs in agriculture and the like came here because the money was good."

But the end of electricity production at Dungeness A does not mean hundreds of jobs suddenly being lost.

New roles will be created over at least a 25-year period as the site is decommissioned and the radioactive material slowly removed.

A British Nuclear Group (BNG) spokesman said: "It takes more people to bring one down [a nuclear power plant] that it does to run it."

Dungeness B power station has had its lifetime extended from 2008 to 2018.

Another of the UK's first generation of nuclear power stations, Sizewell A in Suffolk, was also closed down on the same day.

The reactors were being decommissioned because they were less efficient than larger counterparts, and a reprocessing plant at Sellafield, which is necessary to make their spent fuel safe, is due to close in 2012.

The BNG spokesman said Sizewell A was being turned off at about 1300 GMT followed by Dungeness A a few hours later.


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The moment the power was switched off



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