End of an era for Hinkley Point B – downtime after 45 years
AFTER being Britain’s most productive nuclear power station for nearly 45 years, the reactors at Hinkley Point B will be shut down for the last time on July 15, marking the start of a three-year decommissioning process.
This will mean that for the first time in 60 years West Somerset will not have a working nuclear power station – Hinkley Point C is not expected to be commissioned until 2026.
Construction began in 1967 and the station became operational nine years later. It was originally expected to have a lifespan of 25 years, but has since provided electricity to 81 million homes.
In 2012, owners EDF Energy extended the plant’s life by seven years. It suspended power generation in 2020 for extensive inspections and maintenance.
Many staff are expected to remain on site to assist with the dismantling of the plant – the first stage of the decommissioning process and expected to take several years – and all spent nuclear fuel will be removed from the site by this time. 2025.
Station manager Mike Davies said Hinkley Point B had been the UK’s most productive nuclear power station.
An EDF spokesperson said: “While there are many changes ahead, now is a time to be proud of what we have achieved.
“While EDF was busy building the first of the next generation of nuclear reactors next door, Hinkley B played a vital role in keeping the UK’s lights on and reducing emissions.”
Bill Halder – who worked at Hinkley Point B for 45 years – is set to help the station stop producing electricity. He started as an apprentice in 1976 and is now an engineer. “I really believe there will be plenty of opportunities in the future,” he said.
The spokesperson added: “Although domestic electricity will not be produced from the two reactors at Hinkley Point B after next summer, the station’s end of life is far from over.
“After the shutdown, the nuclear fuel will have to be removed from the site, followed by deconstruction. But it really does feel like the beginning of the end of an era.”
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