North West Wales

Wylfa: Last day for Anglesey nuclear plant

Wylfa Image copyright Magnox

The last working Magnox nuclear reactor in the world has shut down for the final time at Wylfa on Anglesey.

The nuclear plant has been generating electricity since 1971.

The remaining Reactor One at the site was switched off on Wednesday afternoon.

About 150 staff are expected to lose their jobs by April 2016 as the power station starts the decommissioning process.

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Media captionWylfa's Medwyn Williams explains the shutdown process

It will take about three years to remove the remaining spent fuel at Wylfa before teams move in to clear much of the site.

That process will end in about 2026 when only the reactor buildings and fuel stores will remain.

The whole area will then be left until final site clearance at the start of the next century in 2105.

Site director Stuart Law said he was immensely proud of what the power station had achieved in 44 years - providing enough electricity to power every single home in Wales, for every year it has been generating.

"Wylfa has been a fantastic story," he said.

"It's sad that we've reached the end - sad - but a real pleasure and honour to have had this role at Wylfa, and to take it as far as we have done."

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Media captionWylfa nuclear power station will cease operation on 30 December, 2015

By mid-2020s, all the remaining 500 posts at the plant will have gone, with many hoping that construction on a new nuclear plant - Wylfa Newydd - is well under way.

Horizon Nuclear Power, owned by the Japanese giant Hitachi, is still in the process of drawing up detailed plans, which will be submitted by 2017.

The new reactor designs from Hitachi still need approving by industry and government safety experts, and vocal opposition campaigns on the island mean a public inquiry is likely.

'Terrific success story'

However, if the reactor and plant designs are agreed, the first concrete at Wylfa Newydd could be poured in 2020, with the plant generating electricity before the middle of the decade.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: "Today's shutdown and subsequent reduction in staff numbers has been known about for a number of years and the Welsh government has been working in partnership with Magnox, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the local authority to prepare for this.

"While today marks the end of one era it is also the start of new one for the island and the wider north Wales economy.

"Wylfa Newydd will present significant new employment and supply chain opportunities."

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb said Wylfa had been a "terrific success story for Anglesey and for the UK nuclear industry".

"The safe operation of the reactor over its lifespan is testament to the hard work of its skilled and dedicated workforce," he said.

Anglesey council leader Ieuan Williams said: "Wylfa Newydd looks like a fitting successor to Wylfa and the long-term future is looking bright for Anglesey and beyond."

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