UK reactor desk to get a second act in the film industry

September 14, 2020, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

The inspection desk in use at Sizewell A.

A piece of British nuclear history may be coming to a movie theatre (or streaming service) near you. The United Kingdom’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) sold, at auction, a reactor in-core inspection desk to an Oxford-based film studio known to have been involved with productions such as World War Z, Iron Man 2, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The inspection desk, which was used to remotely check conditions deep inside the gas-cooled reactors at Sizewell A nuclear power plant in Suffolk, England, received a high bid of £10,200 (about $13,000), according to a September 7 press notice from Magnox Ltd., the NDA company responsible for the cleanup of the U.K.’s former Magnox reactors. The desk was last used in 2005, just before the site stopped generating electricity.

A historic performance: Used to help the site safely generate low-carbon electricity for 40 years, the inspection desk was considered cutting edge technology at the time, and allowed site operators to identify any maintenance or repairs needed inside the reactor core. As work to decommission and clean up Sizewell A progressed, the desk became redundant and needed to be disposed of. Once it was carefully inspected and certified as free from contamination, Magnox’s disposals contract partner, Ramco, took on the job of finding it a new home.

Disposing of the desk in this way has recycled equipment that would have otherwise required months of work to dismantle for scrap, the NDA said.

Quotes: Caron Weaver, Magnox engineering and asset management director, said, “This sale proves that there is still value in Magnox assets if we are willing to look at what we have and find out if there is a market for them. Our mindset is changing to ensure we exploit our assets and not follow the norm and throw them away as waste.”

Sizewell A’s Disposal Manager, Mark Thurston, added, “Each section would have taken two people at least one week to dismantle for scrap, so this has saved valuable time and brought a small profit. I look forward to spotting it in a film at some point in the future.”

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