Bid to speed up Trawsfynydd's nuclear decommissioning

Image caption,
Trawsfynydd's decommissioning will end in 2014 if the plan is approved

Decommissioning work at a nuclear power station could be speeded up if plans are given the go-ahead by the new coalition government in Westminster.

Magnox North is looking at ways to finish removing "legacy" waste early from the former power station at Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd.

The aim is to be off the site by 2014, rather than 2022 as currently expected, by switching to 24-hour waste removal.

The plan has to pass the UK government's autumn spending review.

A spokesman for Magnox North scheme said its Trawsfynydd Optimised Plan or Top scheme was based on slowing down non-essential work at other Magnox legacy sites to concentrate on decommissioning work at Trawsfynydd and Bradwell in Essex.

If it is approved, Magnox North said it could bring 150-200 extra jobs to Trawsfynydd in the short term and save the public purse up to £150m in reduced costs.

The site, in Snowdonia National Park, currently employs around 550 people on decommissioning work that began in 1995.

That work, over a 37-hour, four-day week, involves the recovery of low and intermediate waste products including fuel element debris, resins and sludges.

An intermediate waste store was opened in 2009, capable of storing up to 333 crates of the waste mixed with concrete.

Magnox North was given £7m for the first quarter of the new financial year to carry out its Top proposals.

Deputy site director Mark Stubbs said the Top proposal, which is supported by the Nuclear Decommissing Authority, would involve doing work scheduled to take 11 years in four years instead.

He said: "There are a lot of costs around maintaining the site. By doing it quicker, we eliminate some of those costs."

Even if the plans to deal with the intermediate level waste go ahead, the site will not be closed.

It will enter a period called "care and maintenance", in effect a mothballing of the site with the intermediate waste in store.

This will last until 2088, when the site will be completely cleared, which should be finished by 2098.

Trawsfynydd is one of the Magnox nuclear power stations introduced in the 1950s. Construction work on the twin-reactor design began in 1959 and the site began producing power in 1965.

The site's two reactors were shut down in 1991 and the power station closed two years later after "de-fuelling".

Magnox North also operates Wylfa power station on Anglesey and Maentwrog hydroelectric station in Gwynedd.

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