15 Jun 17

Sizewell B fuel store becomes operational, allowing planned refuelling to take place on schedule

Facility creates new capacity to safely store spent fuel – allowing Sizewell to operate longer
Sizewell B’s low carbon nuclear electricity meets 3% of UK’s total electricity needs
New facility enables next refueling work to take place on schedule in November
Dry fuel store demonstrates industrial strategy in action

The first spent nuclear fuel has been placed in Sizewell B’s new dry fuel store, marking a milestone in a programme which enables the continued safe operation of the Suffolk power station.

Successful operation of the new dry fuel store means Sizewell B can be refuelled as scheduled this November.  It can now continue to produce reliable low carbon electricity to supply 2.6 million homes until at least 2035 and potentially for a further 20 years, subject to life extension.

It is another example of the investment being made in EDF Energy’s eight existing nuclear power stations and demonstrates the company’s commitment to the safe long term management of waste.  This eight-year project started with community consultation which has remained key as work continued through planning and into construction and commissioning.  

EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz thanked 250 people involved in the innovative and complex project during a visit to the fuel store today. He was joined by EDF Energy Generation managing director Stuart Crooks, Holtec vice-President Tom Marcille and Sizewell B’s station director Paul Moreton.

The operation of the fuel store enables the next refuelling and maintenance work to take place at Sizewell B as scheduled later this year.  During this refuelling work a third of the fuel will be removed from the station’s reactor and replaced with new fuel.  Moving fuel in to the dry fuel store has freed up space in Sizewell B’s fuel pond for spent fuel which will be removed from the reactor. 

Vincent de Rivaz said:  “The successful commissioning of the dry fuel store facility shows EDF Energy’s commitment to long term investment and innovation.  Industrial strategy, in particular for the nuclear industry, requires a long term vision.  With this project, EDF Energy has shown once again that we can make this happen.  It allows the continued operation of Sizewell B for many years and that’s good news for consumers, the economy and for action on climate change.  Completion of the project within the robust regulatory regime in the UK shows the extremely high standards of technical and engineering capability here which is underpinned by world-class nuclear expertise, with safety as our overriding priority.”

The operation of the dry fuel store follows the completion of a robust regulatory programme of work. The store will safely house spent fuel from Sizewell B until a Geological Disposal Facility is available for the longer term storage of spent fuel. 

A dry fuel store is a method of storing spent nuclear fuel that has already been cooled in the spent fuel pond. The fuel is loaded into a metal canister which is then welded shut, and then placed within a large, leak-tight steel and concrete cask.  Holtec International, a world leader in dry fuel store technology is EDF Energy’s lead supplier for the project.

Maintenance and refuelling takes place at Sizewell B every eighteen months and represents a multimillion investment made by EDF Energy into the station.  Contracts have been awarded to local companies such as J.T. Pegg & Sons in Aldeburgh and Webb Engineering in Bungay.  Workers at Moughton Engineering in Great Yarmouth helped construct the dry fuel store facility and will also join Sizewell B employees to complete maintenance work at the power station. 

Notes to editors

Storing spent fuel at Sizewell B
Under the current arrangements, all the spent fuel from Sizewell B’s reactor since it began producing low-carbon electricity in 1995 is safely stored underwater in a fuel storage pond. The fuel storage pond takes hot and highly radioactive fuel from the reactor core. The water in the pond both cools the fuel and forms a highly effective radiation barrier between the spent fuel and its surrounding environment.

Planning permission for the Dry Fuel Store (DFS) was granted in July 2011.  When planning permission was granted, it was subject to a number of planning conditions which had to be met before work could begin. These conditions were met and Suffolk Coastal District Council’s Planning Committee gave the final go-ahead for the Dry Fuel Store at its meeting on Wednesday, 12 September 2012.

About Holtec International

Holtec International provides safe, robust, reliable solutions for managing nuclear waste – including spent nuclear fuel – for commercial nuclear power plants. Holtec provides all the equipment and services required to successfully implement used fuel and non-fuel waste projects, providing custom solutions to address client-specific needs. 

Geological Disposal Facility

A GDF is a single underground site, established with community support and engagement, designed to be passively safe for the long term, secure and monitored.
The UK Government   undertook a wide-ranging consultation on the best means of dealing with higher activity radioactive wastes leading to geological disposal becoming UK Government policy in 2008.

Sizewell C

EDF Energy has completed the Stage 2 consultation for its new nuclear project Sizewell C on the Suffolk coast.  Sizewell C is planned to follow the Hinkley Point C power station which is under construction in Somerset.  Sizewell C will take on learnings and efficiencies by following the Hinkley Point C project which is progressing well. 

More than 3,500 people have taken part in Stage 2 of the Sizewell C public consultation which closed on February 3rd after ten weeks of events, exhibitions and meetings. There have been 70 events held in churches, community centres, offices, village and town halls across the county and the Sizewell C team has worked alongside organisations such as the Rural Coffee Caravan project to ensure even the smallest communities were reached. Planning Aid England has also helped 14 parish councils submit their responses to proposals for Sizewell C with funding from EDF Energy to provide independent and free guidance and advice to local parish and town councils during this consultation.
EDF Energy’s proposals received over 1,000 responses and each issue raised will now be considered and recorded. The feedback will be analysed and used to help EDF Energy develop final proposals which will be subject to further consultation.


EDF Energy

EDF Energy is the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, meeting around one-fifth of the country’s demand and supplying millions of customers and businesses with electricity and gas.

It generates electricity with eight nuclear power stations, more than 30 wind farms, one gas and two coal power stations, as well as with combined heat and power plants.

EDF Energy is leading the UK's nuclear renaissance with the construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. This will provide low carbon electricity to meet 7% of UK demand. The project is already making a positive impact on the local and national economy, British industry, as well as boosting skills and education. EDF Energy also invests in a range of low carbon technologies including renewables and battery storage. It is applying research and development expertise to improve the performance of existing generation and developing the potential of new technologies.

The company provides gas and electricity for more than 5 million customer accounts and is the biggest supplier of electricity by volume in Great Britain and the largest supplier to British businesses. It offers innovative energy systems for commercial customers and digital innovation for customers at home. EDF Energy has also launched its own innovation accelerator, Blue Lab, which focuses on making customers’ lives easier.

The Better Plan is EDF Energy's framework for being a sustainable and responsible energy business and is an integral part of EDF's 2030 vision to be the efficient, responsible electricity company, and champion of low-carbon growth. The Better Plan is underpinned by comprehensive environmental and social programmes which have been recognised by a wide range of organisations.

EDF Energy is part of EDF Group, the world’s biggest electricity generator. In the UK, the company employs around 13,000 people at locations across England and Scotland.

To find out more about the UK's energy challenges visit: www.edfenergy.com/energyfuture/