Page last updated at 05:39 GMT, Friday, 17 October 2008 06:39 UK

Focus on nuclear plant's future

Wylfa power station (Pic: Magnox Electric Ltd)
Wylfa power station will cease electricity production in 2010

It will take over a century and cost 850m, now the public is being asked what it thinks of clean-up plans for Anglesey's nuclear plant.

The Wylfa power station is due to halt electricity production in 2010, after nearly 40 years in operation.

It has taken three years for specialists to pull together detailed plans for decommissioning the site.

Those proposals are being put out for public consultation, starting with an open day at Wylfa on Friday.

"Once we have completed generation and de-fuelled the reactors, we can't just start dismantling equipment and knock buildings down," said Janet Milburn, the decommissioning strategy manager.

We are working hard with our colleagues...to see how we can maximise opportunities for local companies
John Idris Jones, Magnox North

As well as considering how to handle radioactive waste at the site, the environmental study being considered also looks at the cultural and archaeological impacts of decommissioning the station.

"When Wylfa stops generating there will be period of four to five years when there will be very little difference in the visual impact of Wylfa on the skyline," explained Ms Milburn.

"When we get to about 2015, we will begin to see the skyline changing. The smaller building will disappear over a period of 10 years."

But the large reactor building that dominates the station's site will remain in place for another hundred years, before the "final site clearance" stage is reached.

Wylfa - before & after (Pic: Magnox Electric)
It will be 100 years before the main reactor building is ready for removal

However, very early on in the process, the highly radioactive fuel cells - all 98,000 of them - will be removed and taken to Sellafield in Cumbria for reprocessing.

"That removes 99.9% of the radioactive inventory on the site," said the decommissioning manager.

The report puts forward plans to build a new storage building on the site to hold the remaining intermediate radioactive waste, which will include plant structures that have been contaminated during the stations operating life.

Other low-level waste material is likely to be taken to Drigg in Cumbria.

One of the major considerations in the report is the economic impact Wylfa's closure will have on Anglesey.

It estimates that wage levels on the island will fall by around 2.1% as a direct result of loosing 750 jobs at the plant, and an estimated 100 others in the local area.

Bleakly, the report states: "The ability of Magnox Electric to directly avoid or reduce the significant adverse employment impacts during decommissioning is limited."

'Opportunities'

However, John Idris Jones, from Wylfa's owners, Magnox North, said all was being done to ensure that when decommissioning gets underway, as many local people are employed as possible.

"What we are seeking to do is to put in to the big framework agreements clauses that require those companies to look towards taking on sub-contract work with local companies and to look towards employing local people," said Mr Jones.

"We are working hard with our colleagues within the Welsh Assembly Government and within Ynys Mon (Anglesey) to see how we can maximise opportunities for local companies."




SEE ALSO
Island reels from latest jobs cut
10 Oct 08 |  North West Wales
Reactor hope despite land sale
24 Sep 08 |  North West Wales
Nuclear clean-up costs 'to soar'
27 May 08 |  Science & Environment
Council's 'fight' for new Wylfa
10 Jan 08 |  North West Wales

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