Extra funding has been allocated to Bradwell nuclear power station to accelerate the defuelling, decommissioning and termination programme which began in 2002 when the facility closed.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has announced that the site is to be given a total of £71million in 2011/2012, a £20million increase on the current year’s funding. The money is to be spent on packaging radioactive waste from the site’s vaults, decontaminating the cooling pond and weatherproofing the two reactors.
It is estimated that the new investment will bring forward the date by which the power station is finally wound down by approximately 12 years and will reduce the final cost of the decommissioning process by up to £230million.
The decision means that there will be an increase in staff numbers in the short term, but in the longer term it could also lead to local people losing their jobs sooner than expected as the work will be completed ahead of the original schedule.
Already, more than 100 extra employees have been taken on for 2011/2012.
According to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, Bradwell is scheduled to begin what is called a ‘care and maintenance’ mode in 2016 when it will be in a ‘passively safe condition’. Final site clearance will not begin until 2095 and the plant will not be ready for full closure until 2103. [By which time it is likely to be below sea level, which will have risen due to climate change.]