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Power United Kingdom Technology Science

Last Operating Magnox Nuclear Reactor Closes 98

nojayuk writes: The world's last operating Magnox nuclear reactor, Wylfa 1 in Anglesey, Wales was closed yesterday after providing carbon-free power for over 40 years. Wylfa1 was originally scheduled to shut in 2012 along with the adjacent Wylfa 2 reactor but it was kept operating for another three years with the innovative use of partially-burnt fuel from Wylfa 2 and remaining stocks of fresh Magnox fuel. The reactor will be defuelled and move into its decommissioning phase over the next year. The Magnox design used gas-cooling and a carbon moderator with the capability to produce weapons-grade plutonium depending on how it was fuelled and operated. Its design fed into the next-generation AGRs which provide about 6GW of Britain's electricity supply today.
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Last Operating Magnox Nuclear Reactor Closes

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Smart... Very smart.
  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Thursday December 31, 2015 @11:07AM (#51215681) Homepage

    Almost 45 years later, staff gathered to mark the Reactor One switch-off

    reactor team so rory left on holiday for spain yesterday and told us, rite, to make sure we shut everything off before new years. so i dont know if that means the reactor too or if he wants that on...
    cheeky bloke: he was a right bastard last year 'bout not turning off that kettle in the kitchen though mates...
    reactor team: right right... best to shut off the ole magnox lest he send another of those fiery emails.
    cheeky bloke: nobody!? right. ill get the sodding kettle then.

  • "closed yesterday after providing carbon-free power for over 40 years. "

    And now we only have to guard the ashes they produced for a couple of hundred thousand years.

    • by rl117 ( 110595 )

      This isn't the US though and spent fuel won't be left lying around at the rector site indefinitely. As the article states the fuel will be offloaded and sent away to be reprocessed. Afterward, like other similar sites, they'll remove the turbine hall and other ancillary buildings, then leave the reactor to sit for a few decades to allow the residual radioactivity to decay to almost nothing before (carefully) demolishing it entirely. In a relatively short time, it will be a greenfield site you would never

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Ahem, the fuel is left around at the site for decades. Google "dirty 30". Pools of spent fuel, open to the elements, waste carried off by birds... The UK does not have a good track record on this.

        Also, guess who is paying for this. It isn't the operator, EDF.

        • by rl117 ( 110595 )

          That's the reprocessing facility, Sellafield. And there's a reason for that particular building 30 being a mess if you read the history, not that it makes it right. Fuel is not left at power stations.

      • In a relatively short time, it will be a greenfield site you would never know had a reactor on it.

        You mean a BROWNfield site. It won't be a GREENfield site until either the planet gets re-surfaced, or someone actually comes up with a sensible definition of the terms.

        • by rl117 ( 110595 )

          I'm actually using the correct terminology here. They are required to return the site to a "greenfield" state. And no land stays brown; it grasses over naturally very quickly so it's rather more accurate than brownfield.

          • Do you have source for a "legal" definition of those terms then, because as a geologist with a side serving of soil science, I find it hard to believe that they could actually return any site to a close approximation of land and soils developed on a boulder clay and other glacial debris for 9000-odd years. Sure they could grass it over, but anybody could grass over a toxic waste site well enough to fool - for example - an estate agent who didn't want the flow of his advertising spoiled by inconvenient truth
  • (Disclaimer: This is my opinion)

    Over the next, say, 20 to 30 years:
    o Planned shutdown of current-technology Uranium-based reactors and fossil fuel-based power plants
    o Continued and expanded supplementation with so-called 'renewable' sources (wind, solar, etc)
    o Develop and begin deploying LFTR (thorium-based) reactors
    o Continue R&D into hydrogen fusion technology, towards a commercially-viable solution
    • One of the "problems" with fusion is that you get neutrons. You can just slow down these neutrons to generate heat, which gives you some energy of course. Or, you can use U238 (very abundant!) to breed plutonium, which you can then burn in a conventional (fission) reactor. So unfortunately, while the fusion aspect may be clean, you're just leaving money on the table if you're not running a fission reactor from the byproduct...
      • I'd just as soon that we got away from using uranium or plutonium for anything, except maybe in RTGs for long-range space probes. Otherwise the stuff is too much of a pain the ass to deal with.
  • The wiki [wikipedia.org] says that North Korea generates all of their weapons plutonium from this design, but unfortunately not go into any detail on how the plutonium is removed and purified.

    I had never heard of Magnox before - it's quite interesting that non-enriched, direct ore uranium can be used as fuel. I had imagined that only a liquid salt thorium reactor could accomplish this, but it does appear that fuel reprocessing costs for Magnox are much higher.

    • There are several reactor designs that can run on natural uranium. CANDU, RBMK (like the one in Chernobyl - although they use enriched uranium nowadays for safety reasons), UNGG...
      The key is either graphite or heavy water moderation, because light water absorbs too many neutrons.

  • Hmm. Wylfa - will I miss it? It's the largest employer on Anglesey, giving fairly good jobs to a shedload of people. Good jobs-for-life jobs. One thing to note is that it will continue to employ a good many people for a while yet, nuclear reactors don't shut down overnight, even if they're not producing any electricity. It used to power the local aluminum smelter, the largest single customer of electricity in the UK until it shut down in 2009.

    We were very proud of it growing up in the bright-eyed technologi

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