One of the world’s oldest nuclear fuel reprocessing plants will conclude its mission later this year

Sellafield’s Magnox plant will stop reprocessing in July 2022 and enter a new era of clean-up and decommissioning.

It will mark the end of an operational journey that began in 1964.

The plant has played a crucial role in UK energy generation. It received and reprocessed nearly 55,000 tonnes of spent (or used) nuclear fuel from power stations across the country, and Italy and Japan.

That allowed the UK’s 11 Magnox power stations to keep low carbon electricity flowing to homes and businesses in England, Scotland, and Wales.

The final Magnox station closed in 2015. Spent fuel from the UK’s current fleet of AGR nuclear power stations will continue to be sent for storage at Sellafield.

David Peattie, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), said:

“The end of reprocessing at Magnox marks the successful completion of the NDA’s Magnox Operating Programme. It’s the culmination of decades of hard work to safely, securely, and cost-effectively manage the UK’s nuclear legacy. Sellafield can now move from the reprocessing phase of its life into a future focused on decommissioning and clean-up. A special thanks must go to the Sellafield workforce and all those who worked on the programme and have contributed to its success.”

Martin Chown, Sellafield Ltd chief executive officer, said:

“This is a landmark moment for Sellafield. When these operations end, we will have fulfilled our promise to conclude our reprocessing programme in a safe, secure, and environmentally-conscious manner. It’s a clear demonstration of us delivering our purpose to create a clean and safe environment for future generations.”

Employee numbers in the plant will remain roughly similar during the post-operational clean-out phase. This is expected to take about two years.

Anyone whose role is no longer required after this will be redeployed to other work within the company.