Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Process approved for fuel transfer between Wylfa reactors

9 August, 2012

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has approved changes to the operating rules at Wylfa power station, allowing the transfer of partially used fuel from its shutdown reactor to its one remaining operational reactor.

Since it is the first time Wylfa will carry out this process, known as irradiated fuel exchange (IRX), Magnox Limited, the operator, conducted a review of its safety case and identified a number of changes to ensure it can implement the process safely.

Mike Warnes, the ONR project inspector who led the ONR team assessing Magnox Limited’s safety case, said: “The introduction of IRX was a significant change to the operations at Wylfa and required a change to the existing operating rules for the site, which can only be made with ONR’s approval.

“ONR’s team of specialists concluded that Magnox Limited had demonstrated that this change in process could be carried out safely.”

Wylfa power station, on Anglesey, Wales, consists of two gas-cooled, graphite-cored nuclear reactors that use magnox‑clad uranium fuel. One of these reactors permanently ceased generation in April 2012 and, subject to it continuing to comply with its nuclear site licence conditions, the plant has the necessary permission to operate to September 2014.

But since no more magnox-clad uranium fuel is being manufactured, continued operation is only possible if partially-used fuel is transferred from the shutdown to the operating reactor.

Having assessed Magnox Limited’s safety case ONR has signed a licence instrument, granting approval to amend some of Wylfa’s operating rules and allowing IRX to start.

You can read more about ONR’s decision to approve this change in our inspector’s project assessment report.

Magnox Limited’s press release is available here.