IPlantE News

Commercial nuclear reprocessing plant closes

3rd Dec 2018

The Thorp branch of Sellafield has stopped reprocessing nuclear fuel it was announced in November.

The decommissioning of the Thorp site in West Cumbria, opened in 1994, comes after many of its customers opted to store the fuel there rather than reprocess it.

A thermal oxide reprocessing plant, Thorp has processed 9,331 tonnes of nuclear fuel since it opened, from customers all over the world, but keeping it open was no longer viable due to a downturn in demand.

The closure would not result in redundancies, Sellafield Ltd said, as all employees would be given jobs elsewhere in the business. The site is transforming into a solely decommissioning and hazard reduction facility, with the final reprocessing set to be complete in 2020 when the Magnox Reprocessing Plant closes.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has prioritised safely cleaning UK nuclear sites, including Sellafield and 16 other sites across the UK.

David Peattie, Chief Executive of the NDA, said: “The end of reprocessing at Thorp is a clear demonstration that we are delivering our core mission of the safe, secure, and cost-effective clean-up of the UK’s nuclear legacy. This is a historic moment for Sellafield and the UK nuclear industry. Passing this milestone marks another major step in the transformation of the site. As we continue to make pioneering progress in decommissioning and hazard reduction, the world will continue to look to the UK and to Cumbria for its nuclear skills and expertise.”

Nuclear Energy Minister, Richard Harrington, said: “This marks a new and welcome chapter in Sellafield’s decommissioning and environmental clean-up journey, protecting the public from hazards, ensuring the land can be re-used in the future.”

Paul Foster, Sellafield Ltd's Chief Executive Officer, said: "Thorp has been a west Cumbrian success story, it has delivered jobs, skills, pride, and prestige. Together we completed one of the largest and most complex construction projects ever undertaken in Europe."

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