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Tuesday, 23 May, 2000, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Nuclear plant closure plans
Chapelcross
The plant could close as early as 2006
British Nuclear Fuels has announced the intended closure by the end of the decade of the Chapelcross power station in Dumfriesshire.

The electricity generating plant is currently licensed for a lifetime of 50 years and BNFL says it will not be seeking an extension beyond that.

The company expects the closure to be sometime between 2008 and 2010, but warns it could be earlier if market conditions or technical issues dictate.

Chapelcross is one of eight Magnox stations which helped pioneer the British nuclear power programme in the 50s and 60s.

BNFL has published plans to end electricity generation at all eight plants.

Meeting with unions

The company says it wants to provide "clarity for employees" and to give time to work with local communities on decommissioning plans.

Dumfries MSP, Dr Elaine Murray, said long-term planning for the consequences of BNFL's decision should start now and she hopes to set up an early meeting with Chapelcross management and unions.

The first of the eight to shut will be Hinkley Point A. It will cease electricity generation this year, and will not be brought back into service from its current shutdown.

Bradwell will close in 2002, Dungeness A and Sizewell A in 2006, Oldbury in 2013 and Wylfa in 2016/2021.

The Magnox reprocessing plant (B205) at Sellafield will close once all Magnox fuel has been reprocessed, which is expected to be around 2012.

Radioactive spillage

Based on the same programme, Magnox fuel production at BNFL's Springfields site will cease by 2010.

Last September, BNFL was told to improve procedures at Chapelcross following an unauthorised release of low-level radioactive waste.

Water from a sump below a fuel storage pond overflowed and the operators conceded the 700 gallons of waste may have contained low levels of radioactivity.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said a full investigation was carried out and tests of stream water nearby had shown no significant impact on the environment but the agency described the spillage as "very serious".

It was the third radioactive waste handling problem at Chapelcross in 1999.

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