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Inside a nuclear power station

What goes on inside a nuclear power station? How is nuclear fission harnessed to generate electricity? And what measures are in place to ensure the safety of staff and the surrounding community?

This 3D tour of a nuclear power station aims to answer these and other questions.

Various different nuclear power station designs are in use around the world. The design featured here is a pressurised water reactor (PWR), the most modern design currently in use in the UK.

Regardless of the specific design, all nuclear power stations work on the same basic principle. Heat released by splitting uranium atoms is used to boil water into steam. The steam then spins a turbine connected to an electrical generator.

The PWR's safety features include a thick concrete containment building, designed to withstand various scenarios including natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

Nuclear waste – from radioactive chemicals to mildly contaminated tools and protective clothing – and spent fuel is contained and stored safely onsite while the radioactivity naturally decays away. Only once the radioactivity has reached a safe level is waste transported offsite for more permanent storage and eventual disposal.

A rigorous and methodical approach is applied to every step of the design, construction, operation and eventual decommissioning of the power plant, to ensure that everyone working in or living near the plant is as safe as practically possible.

Information sources

All about nuclear power plants

virtual model of a nuclear power station

Take the 3D tour and learn about how a nuclear power station generates electricity and the safety features that protect staff, the public and the environment.