Defueling officially underway at Hunterston B
Hunterston B power station in North Ayrshire has reached another significant milestone as operators started the job of removing spent nuclear fuel from the reactors.
The station stopped generating zero-carbon electricity in January. Since then the workforce has been carrying out a statutory outage to ensure the two units are ready for the next stage in the nuclear lifecycle, defueling.
The first fuel stringer, a 10 metre long assembly of fuel pins and other component parts, has been removed from Reactor 3, four months after the site came offline.
Station Director, Joe Struthers, said: “Since January, we’ve been working hard to get the site ready for this next step. The team has carried out thousands of pieces of work as part of the outage, hundreds of documents have been updated and we’ve secured a new safety case from the regulator to allow defueling to start.
“We are absolutely focused on delivering defueling safely and cost-effectively and I am delighted it is now underway.”
The site is the first of the UK’s Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) stations to reach this important milestone and this positive step shows EDF’s commitment to the deal agreed with the UK Government to defuel all seven AGRs.
Defueling – removing all the used nuclear fuel – is an extension of the refuelling operation which has been taking place at the station for more than 40 years.
The first flask of spent fuel to leave site since reactor emptying started has also been dispatched to Sellafield. Over the next 3 years the station will send around 350 of these flasks to the facility in Cumbria for processing and safe storage. Defueling will remove 99% of the nuclear material from the site before it is handed over to the NDA for its subsidiary Magnox to carry on with decommissioning.