The world watched as Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the U.K.’s Atomic Age

September 19, 2022, 9:11AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Queen Elizabeth II visits Calder Hall for its ceremonial opening in 1956. (Photo: U.K. Nuclear Decommissioning Authority)

As citizens of the United Kingdom and others around the world mourn the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many have reflected on how the world has changed during the seven decades of the queen’s reign—the same decades that saw the rise of civilian nuclear power.

Calder Hall was already under construction at the Sellafield site in West Cumbria when Princess Elizabeth became queen in 1953. Queen Elizabeth traveled to the site in October 1956 and declared, in a televised ceremony, that “It is with pride that I now open Calder Hall, Britain’s first atomic power station.” Watch the fanfare in a historical clip uploaded to YouTube by Sellafield Ltd below.

U.K. greenlights Sizewell C project

July 21, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
A computer-generated rendering of the Sizewell site on the Suffolk coast. Sizewell A and B are to the left and center (respectively) in this image; the section to the right is the Sizewell C area. (Image: EDF Energy)

The U.K. government has granted a development consent order (DCO) for EDF Energy’s proposed Sizewell C plant near Leiston in Suffolk, moving the new nuclear build project closer to a reality.

Nuclear New Build (NBB) Generation Company, an EDF Energy subsidiary, submitted the DCO application to the government’s Planning Inspectorate in May 2020, setting out the range of measures the project would implement to mitigate construction effects and maximize community benefits. The Planning Inspectorate accepted the application in June 2020 and completed its examination in October 2021. Recommendations were made to the secretary of state for business, energy, and industrial strategy this February.

A look back at 1984 U.K. spent fuel flask test

September 29, 2020, 9:32AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The government of the United Kingdom conducted a series of tests in the 1980s to assess the robustness of spent nuclear fuel packages. One such test involved ramming a 140-ton diesel locomotive into a transportation canister, called a nuclear flask, at 100 miles per hour. The test, according to a recent article published by the online magazine The Drive, was a “smashing” success. Just 0.29 psi of pressure escaped the 50-ton test flask, which had been pressurized to 100 psi.

Cost of Magnox D&D has increased by up to 45 percent

September 16, 2020, 9:28AMRadwaste Solutions

The U.K.’s Bradwell Magnox site after being placed in “care and maintenance."

The National Audit Office (NAO) of the United Kingdom reported on September 11 that the total cost of the work needed to put the country’s Magnox nuclear sites into “care and maintenance” has increased by up to an estimated £2.7 billion (about $3.5 billion) since the office’s last estimate in 2017. The NAO, which scrutinizes U.K. public spending, released its findings in a report examining the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) management of a renegotiated decontamination and decommissioning contract with Cavendish Fluor Partnership.

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.