Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Decommissioning delays

Decommissioning the nuclear reactors at Harwell in Oxfordshire and Winfrith in Dorset could be delayed by up to five years, the UK Atomic Energy Authority says.

This is down to a budget cut from £101m this year to £60m by 2008-09, caused by the closure of the Thorp reprocessing plant in Sellafield for more than two years following a radioactive fuel leak.

Reprocessing overseas fuel formed much of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)'s income, as did the sale of electricity from the Magnox power stations at Oldbury, Gloucestershire, which has been temporary shut down.

The best locations for the Energy White Paper's expected new nuclear plants would be the sites of existing ones.

But if Oxfordshire and Winfrith are to remain open for longer, new locations will have to be investigated, such as the sites of existing coal and gas stations in the south-east of England. This could run into plannning permision delays.

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